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A Letter from the Chair of Ways and Means

April 10 marked a milestone day for the city as Mayor Wu presented her $4.6 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Starting this week, the City Council is weighing in on the budget. During the next two months, we will dive deeper into the line items, hear directly from residents, and explore ways to pass a budget that meets the moment and reflects all our voices.

Unfortunately, our city faces the test of financial trends that make this budget process even more critical. We must ensure that our budget prioritizes fiscal responsibility, maintains levels of services for our residents, and supports our economic engine – all while ensuring we do not increase the tax burden on Bostonians.

When we think about how to navigate this financial picture, the path forward requires us to allow our economy to grow to our full potential, which means investing in our people and building more opportunities.

The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation released a 2021 study that shows that if Massachusetts were to close the racial divide, the gross state product would grow by $25 billion in 5 years - that’s more than a billion dollars in extra revenue. The BPDA conducted a study that showed if projects were to adhere to the guidelines in the Boston residents job policy that our economy would grow – with more than 621 jobs that would be created, $173.4 million in new resident income, and our City’s GDP would increase by $82.6 million dollars.

The way to greater economic prosperity for our city is through closing the opportunity gaps for all Bostonians. That’s why the first departments we heard from during the budget process were the Office of Equity, Black Male Advancement, LGBTQ+ Advancement, and Women’s Advancement.

And while we’ll have nearly three dozen departments in for dozens of hearings in the next two months, the main voice in the process should - and will - be the people we represent. On the first day of budgetary hearings, we also hosted a public testimony session at night. During the past month, my colleagues and I already started hosting listening sessions across the City of Boston, and I heard loud and clear that the vision of our city begins with investing and helping people and families.

That’s why we dug into the Boston Public Schools’ budget earlier than usual – and as a result there are more paraprofessionals in our classrooms, increased funding for sports and family liaisons, and a greater emphasis on literacy thanks to this Council’s advocacy and the collaborative spirit by both Superintendent Skipper and Chair Robinson.

But to grow a more equitable, vibrant economy, our investments must address all the divides that hold people back from opportunity and success. We must ensure this budget is addressing the affordability crisis so that residents can stay in Boston and build their lives here. We must also invest in quality of life initiatives – from child care to transportation – that help retain and attract a world-class workforce to fuel our economy. And we can’t overlook investments that address the social determinants of health, so generations of Bostonians can live up to their full potential.

These upcoming hearings will go beyond simply talking about policy ideas and investments. We need to ensure that what we invest in is being implemented in every city department by every city employee as it was intended to be.

I am looking forward to working with the public and my fellow City Councilors on delivering a better budget and a better future for all Bostonians.


Brian Worrell

Chair of Ways and Means

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