Dallas approves $3.8B budget that increases police spending
DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas City Council approved a $3.8 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year that includes increasing police spending by nearly $8 million despite calls to cut the department's funding.
After meeting for more than 12 hours on Wednesday, the overall budget of about $3.8 billion was passed by a 9-6 vote. By contrast, the budget was approved unanimously last year.
The debate was over the general revenue budget, which makes up more than a fourth of the overall budget and represents the discretionary spending that the council can actually change. The fund includes salaries for police, fire and city hall employees and departments.
The police department budget will increase from $501 million in 2020 to a forecasted $509 million for 2021, WFAA-TV reported.
Local activists had brought forth a counter-proposal to cut $200 million from the Dallas Police Department budget, but that received no support.
The final vote came hours after a grand jury decided to not indict officers for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
Amber Brown addressed the council through a video teleconference service and pointed out that the Breonna Taylor decision as the most recent national example justifying moving funding from policing to social programs that will address root causes of crime.
“The people have been fighting and you’re not listening to us,” Brown said. “You don’t care about us and it’s evident.”
But many council members said that many residents opposed budget cuts to the police department.
Councilmember Lee Kleinman voted against the budget, saying the council missed an opportunity for police reform.
“We will never see change in this city if we couldn’t do it this year when we actually had an opportunity,” Kleinman said. “And we just squandered it.”
Councilmembers also voted 11-4 to approve an amendment that cut police overtime by $7 million. They chose that over Mayor Eric Johnson's proposal to cut salaries at City Hall, a move he has called “defunding the bureaucracy.” He voted against the budget.
“Ultimately, in this pandemic, I could not support a budget in which we didn’t touch the bureaucracy and failed to share in the pain with residents in any discernible way,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Despite calls to defund their police departments, Houston and San Antonio have also increased police spending by $20 million and $8 million, respectively.
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