Mayor Walsh said this morning that tax losses due to the Covid-19 shutdown could mean a budget hole of between $65 million and $80 million for the city budget in the fiscal year that begins in just three weeks.
At a press conference at City Hall, Walsh did not specify how his administration is looking to close the gap, but said layoffs won't be part of the solution.
During his press conference, Walsh began coughing, badly and frequently enough that his health and human services chief, Marty Martinez, got him a bottle of water. "I think I have a cold," Walsh said. "I hope it's a cold."
Walsh said he is meeting with police and budget officials to discuss possible changes in the police budget to answer calls for "defunding" the department. He said he can't provide specifics now, because it's still a work in progress, but that he plans to submit a new police budget to the city council next week.
Walsh emphasized he is not looking to actually cut the department, but possibly to re-allocate some of its budget items to try to make BPD more responsive to the public.
He said that complaints in general about police and about excessive use of force in particular have declined in recent years, and that one his first and continuing goals has been to make the department better reflect a city that is now majority minority, but acknowledged protests since the death of George Floyd show there is more the city could do.
"We probably haven't gone far enough" in reform, he said.
He said the city needs a broad community conversation about reforming policing.
Walsh added that the city has been reducing the number of National Guard soldiers on the street since last Sunday's rampages, but that some will probably remain on patrol for awhile longer.