On April 8, Portland City Manager Jon Jennings gave a public presentation about his proposed fiscal year 2020 city budget. I say “his” budget, because he is responsible for drafting the budget that is reviewed by the City Council and the public. This is a tremendous amount of power for one unelected official to hold – to determine the fiscal and policy priorities of our city.

Jennings’ proposal includes cuts to General Assistance and the end of some of the overflow sheltering in Portland. The Portland City Council will be voting on this budget in the coming weeks. I hope we all remember during that vote – and during the upcoming mayoral race – that each of the councilors promised to maintain the city’s pledge to shelter every person.

This budget proposal represents one man’s vision for the future of our city. We’ve been here before. We watched as Jennings’ 2017 budget closed the Positive Health Care Program at the India Street Clinic, and saw how many patients didn’t transfer to new medical homes as promised. That same year, we watched as Jennings allocated $1.2 million for a golf course and restaurant. In 2017 and 2018, there were million-dollar increases for policing while public health funds were slashed by close to a million each year in the midst of an opioid crisis.

What if we rejected the premise of this budget? What if, as a community, we demanded that our elected officials refuse this proposal? Now is the time for a far-reaching coalition of Portlanders to rally together and say that we will not leave anyone behind. This budget would do much harm in many communities, and this city belongs to all of us. We deserve a place where we can grow and thrive, and a humane 2020 budget is one way to get there.

Nicole Manganelli


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