Preliminary $6.5B budget OK’d 

A “work-in-progress” $6.5 billion budget proposal was approved late Thursday evening with $40 million going to offset cuts made to homeless, health and other social services, but no agreement was reached between Mayor Gavin Newsom and members of the Board of Supervisors.

After an unprecedented budget process with final-hour negotiations spanning two days, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by John Avalos, approved in a 4-1 vote Thursday evening Newsom’s proposed budget. The committee made $32 million worth of cuts and also proposed spending an additional $7 million in unexpected revenue.

The total $40 million package would restore service cuts in Newsom’s budget proposal, which closed a $483 million deficit. For fiscal year 2010-11, Newsom proposed a $6.48 billion budget. The budget was $6.6 billion in fiscal year 2009-10.

Negotiations should continue; more changes are expected. Agreement is important for the supervisors to have assurance their spending decisions are honored. Newsom is not obligated to spend the money the board allocates.

Thursday evening’s vote came a day after the committee was scheduled to take action on the budget proposal for the city and county of San Francisco — the first time a committee delayed a vote on the mayor’s proposed budget beyond the last scheduled meeting day.

Budget negotiations had dragged on and included discussions about the board’s proposed charter amendments Newsom is opposing. Those amendments would weaken the mayor’s control over Muni, the Recreation and Park Department and the Rent Board.

Avalos had made it a priority to reject Newsom’s most controversial budget proposals — contracting out services and a program to allow a certain number of people to pay a fee to bypass a lottery system to convert their units into condos, valued at $20 million.

The committee also worked to restore about $20 million worth of cuts to services.

The board should take the first of two votes on the budget July 20.

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