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Tucson City Council passes $1.7 billion budget

Demonstrators gathered ahead of the vote
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 11:21:53-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson City Council passed a $1.7 billion dollar budget with no changes to police funding Tuesday night.

The Tucson Police Department will be allocated $166 million.

The vote was 6-1, with councilmember Lane Santa Cruz being the only vote against the final budget.

Ahead of the vote, demonstrators gathered in front of Tucson City Hall to voice their opinions on whether to defund the police or give the department more funding.

“I just want the city council to know that the Tucson is will not be silent anymore, and we are demanding that they raise funding for police and show our police that they are supported,” expressed Amber, Southern Arizona Back the Blue.

Her husband is a police officer. She organized the rally less than two days ago.

She explained why she thinks the Tucson Police Department needs more funding.

“[For] more training, to be able to provide for support groups when they do have a mental health crisis that they come across,” she said.

Not everyone at the rally agreed with her. Two people arrived to defend their view of defunding the police department.

“Instead of trying to police people and jail them into being better. We need to help them through education, through social services and just any way we can," said Gully.

Gully said he doesn't represent Black Lives Matters but agrees with the message that black lives matter.

Although it was just him and another person urging the council to defund the police at the demonstration, more voices in agreement with his message spoke out during the public hearing ahead of the vote.

"We have tried reform while people are still dying, while people who claim to be protecting them continue to stand around and ignore their desperate cries," said Lee, a Tucson resident.

Before casting her vote, Mayor Regina Romero explained why she supported the budget. She said she is no stranger to the fight those advocating for funding to be delegated to other services and programs.

"I mean, everything that I hear from speakers tonight. I have fought for the last 12 years of my life, and I have fought for to fund in the City Council for the last 12 years, and I will continue fighting for funding for the issues that every single person talked about today -- much more investment in public education investment in health care and affordable health care for all," said Mayor Romero.

She added feels as though with this year's budget, the city is taking steps to move to continue the conversation.

Mayor Romero said this fiscal year's budget will fund a housing first director, a team of social workers that would focus on prevention strategies and more.