Most people who are into politics like to talk about values. Values are at the core of why we do what we do, why we work for what we work for. Budgets and fiscal policy, on the other hand, are not so exciting. But budgets are where we put our values into action. From where we get our funding to where we spend it, there is no more important way for the City to express its values than through its budget.
Over the past eight years, my colleagues and I have worked hard to strike the right balance between how much revenue to collect and how much to invest in our community, as well as where to invest it. We’ve been successful in significantly slowing the rate of increase of people’s property taxes. At the same time, we have also been able to do more than we’ve been able to in years, simply by creating conditions for strong urban growth and a practice of solid investment of our resources.
As a result of better financial practices, we have been able to:
- Historically expand investment in the public realm through the 20 Year Street Funding Plan to tackle road maintenance and upgrades;
- Make thousands of miles of streetscape improvements, including greatly expanded bike infrastructure;
- Invest in single sort and organics recycling, which diverts waste from being sent to the burner or being dumped in a landfill;
- Make unprecedented investment in our water treatment and delivery systems, giving Minneapolis residents some of the best drinking water in the country;
- Reverse almost a decade’s worth of disinvestment in our Fire Department by increasing staffing, providing additional training, upgrading equipment (including some new Minnesota-made trucks and a ladder truck!). Once again, Station 15 in NE is fully equipped;
- Increase investment in police officer training. Increase investment in recruitment initiatives that emphasize the creation of a more diverse force so that the officers who protect our community also reflect our community;
- Restore neighborhood funding that was frozen by the City in 2010 (over my strenuous objections), giving local stakeholders funding with which to shape their own community’s development. I will continue to fight for neighborhood funding moving forward.
As a city, we cannot do the things we want unless we can pay for them. But we can’t place undue burden upon our property owners. Continuing to invest in the services and amenities that make Minneapolis one of the best places to live helps us be able to act on our core values. And it helps us to make sure that no one is left behind as our city moves forward. Fiscal responsibility is pretty boring, but I will continue to fight for it, because it’s how we become the city—and the people—we want to be.