Reflecting on the 2019-2020 budget
In 2019 our city was held hostage to raise taxes on insurance premiums as a consequence of our state’s recalibration of pension requirements. Mayor Fischer pushed for a quick approval of a permanent insurance tax hike. A handful of metro council members rejected this proposal and called for the Mayor to stop the “scare tactics” and move forward with them on the upcoming budget process. An increase in the home insurance premium tax rate alone, would have jeopardized the ability of low-income and fixed-income homeowners to afford their homes. This increase would have taken effect on the heels of a revaluation of property values in West Louisville and other historically Black neighborhoods. This would have drastically increased housing insecurity and foreclosures in the Black Community. The mayor responded by giving one alternative: a 35 million dollar cut to community resources including loss of a firehouse, an ambulance, two libraries, four pools and over 300 jobs. Knowing the tax increase would disproportionately impact minorities and low income families, a handful of council members were forced to accept the cuts over the challenges that our community would have faced in the wake of an insurance premium tax increase.
Here we see that our Mayor passed on the opportunity to make cuts that would have improved the lives of our citizens and instead chose to pull funding from our systems of support. Because we wouldn’t allow for gentrification through mass-displacement as a result of tax hikes, our city was punished.
One must ask, what part of the city suffered the greatest from these losses… the part past 9th street?
Currently two-thirds of the budget is directed at policing our city. LMPD and LMDC’s funding totals $200 million a year, while in comparison our Health Department sees $20 million… that is 10%.
Although we find ourselves in a financial crisis Mayor Fischer has proposed an overall increase of $3.5 million for the patrol division. Most of this will go to salaries.
How can this be, when our children faced the threat of not accessing the public library or pools last summer? When our city would rather “reopen the economy” than protect every resident from the coronavirus? What else do our children stand to lose if we fail to act?
It is unacceptable to choose police officers over our health, our safety. We must revise the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and defund the LMPD and Corrections budgets to reinvest fully into what we know we need for our communities.
What is possible?
When we defund the police, we create opportunities to further end our investments into the carceral system. Defunding the police also means abolishing Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), defunding the policing of the Child Protective Services (CPS), and divesting from Rubbertown’s pollution to supply the military, and any other system that cares less about accountability and more about policing our behaviors for control.
When we reject investing in the systems that violently maintain the dominance of white supremacy, we can create expansive possibilities to invest in our community in all the ways we need to heal our trauma, nourish our bodies, build meaningful relationships with each other, restore our planet, and find joy.
We can create processes that really hold us all accountable for the harm we cause. Together, we can create local ownership over the systems that support our needs. We know we deserve better systems to support our healing from the immense trauma we all carry in our community. When we #defund, we can create expansive options to heal from how white supremacy has taught us to be in relationship with each other.
Funding priorities for $190 million budget investment into community
(see below for specific reinvestment demands, attach dollar amounts as desired)
- Community based safety systems free from the carceral state
- Develop community wide accountability processes that do not involve police or any other punitive response
- Community wide education
- Conflict resolution
- Bystander intervention
- Antiracism education to unlearn white supremacy especially targeted at white folks
- Paid workers
- Conflict resolution facilitators to help guide the learning and unlearning we all have to do when in conflict with each other
- Community trainers
- Mental health first responders - $10 million
Including crisis workers to support individuals leaving their abusers
- Therapy collective - $2 million
Funding to provide basic needs for people in crisis, including food, safe houses for people in crisis who need immediate, short term housing, and needed physical and mental healthcare
- Fund specifically for pre development activities to support cooperative and fundamental organizations in our communities (i.e. the food co-op, Change Today Change Tomorrow, Play Cousins, etc). There isn’t a need to create more non-profits but a need to create a sustainable ecosystem of community-owned and organized resources to meet our desires, joy, needs and wants.
- Fund to support cooperatively owned businesses and skill development
- Rehab every single vacant and abandoned property and give houses to people who need a home. Rehabbed homes should go directly to people and not be sold to banks. Homes should be guaranteed for every single person in this city.
- Fund community-led arts and entertainment to create entire neighborhoods for our children to run around, explore, laugh, be loud, be curious, learn how to navigate conflict, and build lasting relationships. We can have parks, community centers, theatres, art studios, and all forms of entertainment because we deserve an abundance of options for joy.
- We can ensure that people have ownership of our neighborhoods and that we create guaranteed housing for every single person, not because they’ve given their hard earned wages to a bank but because we made sure our neighbor was housed in a home that is safe and beautiful.
- We can repair every vacant property in our community.
- BLM should lead this work to inform what processes are needed and possible.
- Divest from Rubbertown, which means no more tax incentives and increased standards
- Job training and creation for local environmental restoration of the air, water, and soil.
- Fully fund public transit system to reduce vehicle dependence.
- Indigenous land
Community autonomy/self determination
- Participatory budgeting for community decision making every year
- Fund ecosystems of health workers - including doulas, doctors, body workers, yoga instructors, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, chefs, and more to take care of our bodies.
- Quality wages and training to create massive infrastructure for mental health first responders, for short term and long term response to the mental health consequences of living under white supremacy - including anxiety, depression, fear, traumatizing others, and more.
- We can cooperatively own as many grocery stores as we need. We can build a local food system that works.
- $5 million for Louisville Co-op
- $5 million for Change Today, Change Tomorrow #FeedTheWest
- In-home elder care to support their physical and mental health, as they find healing from a lifetime of white supremacy.
- Universal basic income, especially for those with disabilities who should not have to work or seek work to be valued in our community
- Monthly supporting income for all impacted by COVID-19