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Mayor Wu Unveils First City Budget and $350 Million Federal Spending Plan

The budget, in partnership with federal ARPA funds, reflects the clear call for transformative action to support affordable housing, landmark investments in mental health, early education and childcare, arts, climate resiliency, and initiatives to close Boston’s racial wealth gap.

Mayor Michelle Wu today proposed her administration’s first budget, with coordinated resources to set a foundation for the future, connect Boston’s communities, and deliver on the details of City services across all neighborhoods. The recommended Fiscal Year 2023 Operating Budget is $3.99 billion, representing new growth of $216 million or 5.7% over Fiscal Year 2022, and the Fiscal Years 2023-2027 Capital Plan totals $3.6 billion of neighborhood infrastructure investments. Mayor Wu also unveiled her plan to connect $350 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to accelerate a Green New Deal for Boston through major investments to leverage the operating and capital budgets, focusing on affordable housing, mental health, climate resiliency, early education and childcare, arts, and economic opportunity to bridge Boston’s racial wealth gap.

“In this moment of urgency and opportunity for Boston, our recommended budget ties together our shared resources to set a foundation for the future, connect our communities, and deliver on the details of City services across our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we emerge from the pandemic, this budget charts a course towards our brightest future for our children, for our communities, for Boston. I’m so excited to be building that future together.” 

Mayor Wu’s first budget proposal comes in the first year of a new balance of budgetary power with the City Council. For the first time, Mayor Wu and the Office of Budget Management (OBM) hosted a series of listening sessions in partnership with the Boston City Council to engage residents on the budget process and solicit public feedback, ahead of the Mayor submitting each to the City Council. Through these listening sessions and a citywide survey in 12 languages, the City directly engaged with over a thousand residents over the last three months to guide budget drafting. The budget proposal reflects the clear call from residents for transformative action to support Boston’s people, neighborhoods, and City services.

The Recommended FY23 Operating Budget comes a month after Boston received AAA bond ratings from both rating agencies for the eighth year in a row. These ratings are a recognition of the City’s strong fiscal management before and during the pandemic, despite its significant impact on the City. The ratings will allow the City to secure the most favorable rates for infrastructure investments to support equity, affordability, and resiliency in every neighborhood. 

“Mayor Wu’s FY23 Budget submission centers residents' voices in its investments while maintaining strong fiscal responsibility that has earned Boston high marks for financial management,” said Justin Sterritt, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. “The strategic use of the Operating Budget, Capital Plan and Federal ARPA funding together will unlock transformational investments that will have deep impacts for communities in Boston.''

The budget, through the multiple funding sources, proposes targeted impact in key areas including:

  • An unprecedented commitment of $380 million in housing affordability through the Operating budget, the Capital budget, and federal recovery funds to build and acquire new affordable units, invest in affordable homeownership, and fund housing stability services and an expanded voucher program.
  • A greener City vehicle fleet, improvements for mobility and active transportation, the first citywide composting program, new leadership for food justice and urban agriculture, and investments in Boston’s tree canopy and open space that will collectively accelerate Boston’s Green New Deal.
  • A new Center for Behavioral Health at the Boston Public Health Commission to elevate mental health as a Citywide priority, a coordinated crisis response program, specialized supports for older adults, and pathways for greater representation of Boston residents and people of color in public safety jobs. 
  • Accelerating an equitable economic recovery by more than doubling investments in Main Streets districts to support our small businesses; creating an innovative Legacy Business Fund; funding the new Office of Contract Services that will help tie city contracting to wealth-building opportunities for BIPOC- and women-owned local businesses; expanding workforce development for immigrant professionals, young people, and city residents; and investing in neighborhood placemaking, arts, and culture. 
  • A major expansion of the City’s language access capacity, investments in immigration legal services, wraparound supports for returning citizens, and resources to grow the City’s new Office of Black Male Advancement and Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement to amplify the voices of all Boston residents.
  • Empowering youth and families, with a significant commitment to the Boston Public Schools through a $40 million increase for BPS in the Operating Budget paired with over $100 million in federal ESSER funding to support students and school communities, strengthen academics, and improve facilities and operations; a new Office of Early Childhood; and funding for 6,000 youth summer jobs and 1,000 full-year jobs.

The budget works in concert with $350 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to accelerate a Green New Deal for Boston. Mayor Wu’s proposal for ARPA funds builds on the $95 million in federal funding for emergency relief for residents, financial support for small businesses, and the two-year fare-free bus pilot. The proposal includes: 

  • $206 million for housing stability, affordable homeownership and financial assistance to first-generation homebuyers, strategic acquisitions to combat displacement, and deeply-affordable housing creation on City-owned land; a nation-leading pilot to advance energy efficiency in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability; and upgrades to public housing units across five sites for air quality, energy efficiency, and health;
  • $34 million for economic opportunity and inclusion, to grow BIPOC-owned businesses, further invest in Main Street business districts, expand tuition-free community college and workforce training programs, and create a commercial rental rebate program to support small business recovery and build wealth in Boston neighborhoods;
  • $31.5 million for climate-focused investments, including expanding the Green Youth Jobs program, creating walking and biking infrastructure, growing and preserving our urban tree canopy, strengthening our local food systems, and supporting electrification of the City vehicle and school bus fleet; 
  • $20 million for transformative arts and culture investments that will facilitate placemaking and strengthen both downtown and our neighborhood communities;
  • $20 million to ensure an equitable response to the ongoing pandemic by supporting critical COVID-19 vaccination efforts, ongoing testing, community engagement, and continued collaboration with community-based organizations and community health centers; 
  • $18 million to tackle behavioral health and substance use disorder challenges;
  • $15 million for investments in Boston’s early education and childcare system, including growing the early educator workforce and streamlining access and enrollment for Boston families; and
  • $5 million for evaluation and equitable administration, to support language access, establish an equity framework, and ensure strong compliance with federal guidelines.

The proposals for the spending of federal funds and revenue replacement was formally filed with the City Council on Monday with the annual submission of the operating budget and capital plan. 

For more information about the proposed budget visit budget.boston.gov. For more information about the ARPA funds visit boston.gov/recover.

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    Published by: Budget
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