District 3 Blog
Madison Public Market and City Budget
Let's talk budget. As you know, Madison completes its budget cycle annually so every year we re-prioritize and re-order and re-chart our course based on our values. A city's values are where it puts its money and I take that very seriously. In the past I have supported funding for the Midtown police station, the Pinney Branch Library, our public market, and a new fire station on the southeast side.
This year the mayor's budget more closely aligned with much of the council's priorities and vision for the city, but there are few bumps we're negotiating through our final budget deliberations this next Monday and Tuesday evenings. I want to walk you through my thinking on a few of the more high profile amendments and get your thinking as well.
First and foremost, let's talk about the public market. Our public market is slated for the corner of East Washington and First Avenue and is positioned to break ground and move forward, and has small business owners chomping at the bit. Moreover, our 'Market Ready' program is helping future business owners move from 'I have a great idea/recipe/product' to 'I have a business plan and know how to market it and complete my taxes too.' This is especially true for small business owners of color, underprivileged individuals and families, and folks statistically less likely to have an MBA or advanced degree just laying around.
This market works for District 3. We all do better when we all do better, and dollars spent in local stores stay in the community and continue generating wealth right here at home. Dollars spent with a vendor in our public market will be spent a week or month later at Good Food Cafe or North of the Bayou, or Deja Brew coffee. It's money our neighbors who may become business owners in the market have to put toward school fundraisers and girl scout cookie sales for the local troop. It's key to Madison and the east side's economic success that we foster and empower these small businesses.
The public market and food-related innovation is also uniquely set to create opportunity in communities of color. Madison has real problems with inequality of opportunity among our neighbors and we have the chance to really walk the walk on our values by supporting the market. Of the folks in the Market Ready program I mentioned above, roughly 60% are women, 30% are black, and 30% are first generation immigrants. This is a place where folks can succeed regardless of background and we could use more places like that in the world, including right here at home.
So, that's the good news, but here's the challenging news. We've taken a hit in the amount of federal grant contributions we can reasonably expect for this essential project for our city. Reams of federal programs for local economic and community opportunity have been slashed or are on the chopping block under the current administration. This leaves the city in tough position. If we continue funding the market at the level of previous years, we won't have enough to make the numbers work and the market could essentially come to a halt. There's currently an amendment to reduce the funding back to previous year levels, and we'll be voting on it tomorrow evening.
Like with any challenge, we have a choice; we can step up, pick up the slack, and walk the walk on our values on growing economic opportunity and equity, or let our market fade away. I believe our choice here is clear. I intend to vote against this amendment and if you believe as I do that it's right for the city to invest in an economic engine for the east side, I encourage you to email email@example.com and encourage my colleagues to oppose the amendment as well. The east side is worth investing in.
Thanks as always for being thoughtful neighbors and please drop me a line and let me know about other budget priorities which matter and/or you believe matter to the community at large. We'll be taking up the capital budget and its amendments first, tomorrow night, and very likely the operating budget amendments the next day on Tuesday. The meetings begin at 530pm in Room 201 of the City County Building and go until, well, very late. You are each welcome to come and testify on any amendment. Bring coffee. The capital budget amendments can be found here and the operating budget amendments can be found here.
Happy Budget Season to One and All,
Alder, District 3
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