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Amid Calls To Defund LAPD, City Council's Budget Committee Kicks Off A Month Of Hearings

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The Los Angeles City Council budget committee met on Monday for the first time since large-scale protests against the killing of George Floyd and police abuses took over L.A. streets.

Committee chairman Paul Krekorian said this will be the first of a month of meetings, one every Monday in June before the fiscal year begins July 1.

"But our work is not going to stop ... because of the dynamic nature of revenues, and the fact that COVID-19 has left so many people in great economic distress," Krekorian said. "We're going to be continuing to work throughout the fiscal year to make ongoing changes in this budget."

The proceedings kicked off with a look at the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. There’s a significant shortfall in city tax revenues caused by coronavirus stalling the economy, and it’s turned out to be a larger gap than budget analysts predicted.

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The city will have to dip further into reserves to balance the books. (The City Administrative Officer’s full year-end financial status report is available here.)

Later, callers flooded public comment lines, asking the committee to consider a “People’s Budget” proposed by Black Lives Matter-LA and other community groups. It asks city leaders to almost entirely defund LAPD and divert the money to social services instead.

One caller, who identified herself as Emily and a member of Black Lives Matter-LA, asked: “You would rather continue to fund a failed system, than listen to the people and reimagine a budget that is moral and just?”

She added: “Do the right thing: Defund the police."

Last week, members of the city council introduced a motion to divert up to $150 million from police to support disadvantaged communities. The mayor has endorsed the idea -- but callers during Monday’s budget hearing were dismissive, saying it’s a relatively small amount of money compared to the $3.1 billion the city spends on LAPD.

“It’s a breadcrumb,” said Terry O’Neil. “We’re not stupid.”

That motion will be taken up at a hearing on June 15.