San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed legislation that would discourage city voters from passing charter amendments that earmark city revenue for particular purposes.
California’s fourth-largest city needs to cut $338 million from its budget for the coming fiscal year. Both city and rating agency officials have said that voter-imposed set-asides reduce the government’s financial flexibility.
Newsom’s office estimated that discretionary spending is less than 40% of the city’s general fund budget, with more than 60% locked up by various legal requirements. San Francisco voters have regularly imposed spending requirements on the city, including earmarks for children’s services, the symphony, and public transportation.
The mayor supported a public transportation earmark that voters passed last year.
Newsom’s legislation would make it city policy to dedicate new funding sources to match any new earmark; however, voters would not be bound by the policy.