Newman’s priorities disappointing

I was very disappointed with the eight budget priorities presented by City Council member Brownie Newman’s letter [“City Budget Needs Community Input,” June 20] and the order they were in. First, I noticed that affordable housing was not among them—despite the fact that it was top priority when he was elected and prices have risen since then, aggravating the crisis dramatically. [Increasing] the problem was the fact that two or three of his priorities were for planning spending.

Planning budgets worsen affordable housing twice over, first by competing for public funds and then again by hindering construction. It is also notable that these planning priorities remained open-ended, and therefore potentially limitless, since Newman did not include hard figures or, preferably, budget percentages.

Among Newman’s eight priorities, the only ones I think much of are restrooms, greenways and sidewalks. I have warmed somewhat to tax relief, for an indirect reason that follows.

If the city—unlike the county and New York City—is unwilling and claims to be unable to fund contraception or abortions, then private individuals can [do so] for themselves or through private charities with the tax dollars that they [might] save. If a government is spending a smaller percentage (including zero) of its funds on contraception than the public [spends], then cutting taxes [could] increase contraception funding and thus help save the planet and alleviate housing demand.

Unfortunately, the same might be true of fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization, which would destroy the planet and aggravate housing demand. Though I suppose it’s obvious that no housing follows from no planet.

— Alan Ditmore

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