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Boston mayor responds after lawmakers try to slash police budget, veteran services

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu vetoed a City Council budget proposal that had $31 million in cuts to the police department as well as $900,000 in cuts for veteran services.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu rejected a City Council proposal that would have cut funding for the city's police department and veteran services.

"Our budget must be responsive to the needs of our constituents, fiscally responsible, and built on a foundation of effective delivery of City services that are central to our residents’ quality of life," Wu said in a letter to members of the Boston City Council on Friday, according to a report from the Boston Globe.

The Democrat mayor's letter comes after the council approved a $4.2 billion operating budget for the city that would have reduced funding for the Boston Police Department by $31 million and $900,000 in cuts to veteran services. Along with the proposed cuts were an $8 million increase funding for participatory budgeting, a city process that allows for more engagement on how tax dollars are spent by Boston residents.

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The figures came in vastly different from Wu's proposed budget, which only included $2 million for the participatory budget process. In her letter to members, the mayor said the council's proposed cuts to the police budget "are illusory, as the City is obligated to cover salary and overtime expenses incurred by the department."

The veto means the budget will now be sent back to the council where it will need two-thirds of the members to override Wu. With 12 members serving on the council, that would mean eight members would have to vote to override the veto. Seven of the 12 members voted to approve the proposal sent to Wu.

Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, chair of the city's Ways and Means Committee, told the Boston Globe on Friday that the council's proposed cuts would not have led to any city employees losing their jobs, instead arguing that her analysis found the Boston Police Department could have close to $25 million in extra funds next year.

Fernandes Anderson also blasted the Wu administration for not providing more transparency, saying the "administration does not work well with the council."

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But Fernandes Anderson, who has a son who serves in the Marines, expressed regret about the proposed cuts to veteran services, noting that funding would not have been affected because the proposed cuts were a line item that was eligible to be reimbursed by the state.

"I want to extend my apology, I don’t want to send that message," she said.

Fernandes Anderson's office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.

Wu's veto was also criticized by the Better Budget Alliance, a group that has advocated for more participatory budgeting.

"It is unacceptable that Mayor Wu vetoed a higher $10 million [allotment] for participatory budgeting and used false criticisms to undo the council’s critical investments in Boston’s underfunded working class, BIPOC communities," the alliance said in a statement, adding that Wu "has chosen to protect unused police funds and excessive overtime in the bloated BPD budget instead of funding real community investments."

The decision to veto the proposal was praised by the head of the city’s largest police union.

"Undoubtedly, we’re grateful the mayor saw fit to reject the council’s misguided efforts to dramatically and disproportionately impact the BPD budget, and, by extension, the department’s ability to effectively protect and serve the people of Boston," Larry Calderone, the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, said in a statement, according to the Boston Globe.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.

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