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Tallahassee: Demanding a Peoples Budget

By staff

Isabelle Casanova, Regina Joseph, Delilah Pierre at People's Budget Panel.

Tallahassee, FL – On April 30, Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) hosted a panel discussing Tallahassee’s current city budget and the need for a People’s Budget. The panel was put on at The Bark, a local vegan restaurant in the All Saints neighborhood, and was co-sponsored by the Tallahassee chapters of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

“It’s super important that we let the city know that we’re not just going to be silent in the face of rising rent and inflation and unemployment. In general, it’s really important for people to know that they can make a difference,” said Regina Joseph, president of TCAC and district organizer for FRSO.

The panelists highlighted how the current city budget does not allocate enough resources to take care of the everyday needs of Tallahassee residents, but instead funnels more and more money to the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) with each passing year. For the 2022 fiscal year, TPD received just over $64 million, which equates to roughly 37% of the city’s general fund. TCAC demands that the city reallocate the funding for community support and stop using other city and county funding for TPD.

With the high correlation between poverty and increased crime rates, if the city really wanted to address crime, they would redirect money away from TPD and put it towards solutions proven to reduce both poverty and crime, such as reliable access to affordable housing and public healthcare options. Instead, that money is used to further militarize a police force with things like night vision goggles, urban assault vehicles and a new helicopter.

“The city commission would rather let developers build more student housing and more studio apartments instead of actually allocating money towards housing that working people can afford,” said Isabela Casanova, one of the panelists and a member of SDS.

Casanova added, “The truth of the matter is that people need a place to sleep, and people need a place to call home – to not put affordable housing on their agenda or even on the radar is pretty sad. Working-class people need a cap on rent and to be actually able to afford the houses they are living in.”

Tallahassee’s desperate need for a People’s Budget further reinforces the demand from Tallahassee activists for a Civilian Police Accountability Council, which would put the power of police and their spending in the hands of the city’s residents. If each year TPD is rewarded for their inability to keep Tallahassee residents safe with a larger budget, there will never be an incentive for them to change, so it’s time to take that decision away from the city and give it to the people most affected.

Jordan Scott, the organizing chair for Graduates Assistants United, a union for grad students on FSU’s campus, stated, “The people’s budget gives the ability to seize those resources – that we pay anyway, through taxes- and give it back to things we need, like public transportation. We know that working-class people are the people that make this city.”

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