2005-2006 Budget Priorities
San Francisco Youth Commission's Budget Priorities
Fiscal Year 2005-06
The San Francisco Youth Commission is charged with advocating within City Hall on the behalf of the City’s youth. As part of this mandate, the Commission advises the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors on what it believes are the most important aspects of the budget regarding youth. After meetings with youth from around San Francisco and with various City Departments, the Youth Commission is ready to begin its yearly fiscal advocacy.
There were two main ways in which we advocated for expenditures. The first way was the simple support of programs that we feel serve the interests of youth, or, conversely, programs that appear to be detrimental to the City’s youth or have been seen to have inefficiencies.
The Youth Commission also wanted to take advantage of discretionary funds by investing in various departments in ways that will help those departments becomes more efficient. We must capitalize on this opportunity, keeping in mind that in future years, we will once again be saddled with massive deficits.
Our priorities are not organized in any particular order.
Department of Public Health (DPH)
Opposition to the closing of local clinics:
- The Youth Commission is against the closing of local clinics, specifically those that provide reproductive health services to youth. We know how important it is for young people to be able to have the information they need to make informed choices about their health and family planning.
Support for realignment of operating hours to better accommodate youth:
- The Youth Commission observes the need to restructure the operating hours of local clinics to save resources. However, the youth of San Francisco have difficulty reaching many of the clinics, which operate on the traditional 9-5pm workday, because of school. Therefore, the operating hours of our local clinics should be made to accommodate youth who want to use the clinic’s services, but can not afford to be absent from school.
Municipal Transit Authority
Need for extra transportation after school for student safety:
- The Youth Commission has determined though discussions with SFUSD students that there are a number of bus lines in the City which students do not see as safe. A combination of over crowding (leading to angry riders) and waiting for a bus (making student susceptible to being targets outside school). In fact, at the annual Student Summit held by the Student Advisory Council, public transportation after school was named the area where students feel the least secure. These transportation concerns were chosen over drugs, weapon violence and gangs as the number one safety priority.
- The students asked for larger and/or more frequent busses after school on the following bus lines: K, 9, 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29, 53, and 54. The 15 and 54 lines were considered the most urgent.
Support for the maintained cost of FastPasses, but concern for daily rates:
- The Youth Commission is pleased that there will be no increases on the cost of Youth, Adult, or Disabled FastPasses. However, the Youth Commission is in opposition to the increases on individual fares. This will cost financial hardship to those families who live day-to-day, and who are without a stable income.
Need for staff to investigate the possibilities for a class pass:
- The Youth Commission requests that the MTA dedicate part of an already allocated F.T.E. to work on a plan to bring the ClassPass Program to City College and San Francisco State University.
Police Department (SFPD)
Support for increased funding for investigations
- The Youth Commission supports the 50% increase in funding for the Police Department’s Investigations Bureau. Working through the backlog of cases is important for public safety, and in building public confidence in the government’s respect for the victims of violent crimes.
Opposition to increased funding for additional police officers
- The Youth Commission is opposed to the $2.2 million allocated towards 130 new police officers in the Mayors Proposed Budget. Because of the implementation of Proposition C, which encourages SFPD staff positions to be filled by civilians when possible, 72 police officers will be returning to work in patrol, investigations, and community policing. The available positions, on top of the proposed increases would add up to a total of 102 new police officers. Given these difficult budget times, the Youth Commission feels that the 72 available police officers more than adequately support the SFPD’s efforts, and that the 130 new positions would be redundant.
Opposition to the proliferation of School Resource Officers (Cops-in-Schools)
- It has been reported that many of the 130 new police offices are to be used in San Francisco middle and high schools. However, the Commission has observed that students are still split over whether or not police are a positive presence on school grounds. Additionally, fiscal year 2005-2006 is again a difficult year for the City. Therefore, the Youth Commission recommends that the City holds off on increasing the number of police in schools until that policy improves in public opinion and the City’s resources increase.
Juvenile Probation Department (JPD)
Support for New Funding for Staff Positions
- The Youth Commission is pleased that $900,000 has been included in the Mayor’s Proposed Budget for JPD. We have found that Department to be riddled with inefficiencies, and conducts cruel treatment of its wards. It is of principal importance that the new JPD Chief is given the resources he needs to create real reform in the Department, so that it will become more humane and cost-efficient in the future.
Support for no cuts to Community-Based Programs
- The Youth Commission approves of the fact that the Mayor’s Budget Proposal does not include any cuts to community based programs associated with juvenile probation.
Fire Department (SFFD)
Opposition of Additional Resources for the Fire Department
- The Youth Commission is disappointed because of the fact that once again, contrary to the City Controller’s statement, private investigations, and public outcry, the Fire Department is once again receiving a substantial boost in resources. Despite the fact that there has been no significant increase in the number of fires in San Francisco, the Fire Department would receive a 7.40% increase in resources. Due to the City’s need to be careful in the ways in which it spends its resources, the Commission advises that the Board of Supervisors revisit this issue, and submit plans to cut down the costs of this Department whose funding is out of control.
- The $8 million in cost saving reforms are undermined by major increases in salaries. There are no net savings in the SFPF this year.
Recreation and Park Department
Need of funds to improve our recreational services
- Ask nearly any young person about the state of recreational services and the physical shape of our parks, and that youth will respond negatively. The Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families reports that 67 percent rated recreation programs for children "fair to very poor." Youth need and want recreational services that are responsive to their athletic, educational, and artistic needs.
Use one-time funding to improve the physical state of our park and recreation facilities
- The Youth Commission supports the fifty renovation projects funded by the 2005-2006 budget. Our athletic fields, gymnasiums, pools, and recreation centers are all in need of drastic support. The Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families reports that 76 percent of San Francisco parents rated park facilities "fair to very poor". Having clean and functional park and recreation facilities is important in keeping activities available and attractive to youth.
Opposition the Workreation funding cuts
- Recreation and Park’s Workreation internship program had 250 youth participants. However, due to budget cuts, the program can now only house 144 youth. This program helps students build work experience, and gives them real confidence in their abilities. When the Youth Commission called multiple recreation centers from all around the City and asked Department staffers what programs are in the greatest danger of being harmed, nearly all responded with "Workreation."
Support for funding increases for the Public Defender’s Office
- The Public Defender’s Office has risen as a true ally of youth in San Francisco. The Public Defender has done excellent work, not only in defending the youth, but also in providing a variety of support services for their clients.
Importance of Youth Employment
- The Youth Commission believes that youth employment is essential to a healthy, stable economy and the overall development of youth. When youth are employed, they learn the value of punctuality, responsibility, and other critical job skills that will serve them later. Economically, youth working provides the city with much needed tax revenue.
Need for City-Supported Youth Job Programs
- With the economy still in decline, job opportunities for youth in San Francisco are very few. Adding to the decline of job opportunities is the closure of YO! SF, which was an important job program for youth in the community of San Francisco.
Support for Alternative Job Programs
- The Youth Commission supports funding of alternate jobs program that would fill the void left by the closure of YO! SF, get youth jobs that are not just in the services sector, and help get more youth into the work force and off the streets.