Boston Voters Approve Budget Reform, Elected School Board Voting Questions, Reject East Boston Power Facility

More … than two out of three voters supported Question 1, a binding referendum asking whether the city should overhaul its budget process, giving city councilors more sway over the city’s purse strings. With 94.90 percentage of boroughs reporting at 11:41 a.m., 68,495 voters said yes to the changes and 33,205 say no.

In other statements, residents overwhelmingly rejected Question 2, a nonbinding measure that asked voters if they supported a controversial electrical substation planned for East Boston. With 94.90% of reporting constituencies, there were 85,152 votes against the substation and 16,900 votes in favor.

Nearly four in five voters said yes to Question 3, a non-binding referendum that asked whether the current appointed school committee structure should be replaced with a school committee elected by city residents. With 94.90 percentage of reporting constituencies, 79.26 percent of voters said yes to election committee members and 20.74 percent opposed it.

The proposed overhaul of Boston’s budget process would allow the city council to change appropriations, as long as its revised budget does not exceed the amount originally proposed by the mayor. under the city current structure, which has frustrated councilors for years, the council can approve or reject the mayor’s proposed budget but can only transfer funds if the mayor requests it.

This measure would allow the mayor to accept or reject the council’s version of the budget and change any item in that version. The council would be able to override the mayor’s veto or amendments by a two-thirds vote.

The proposal, which would come into effect for next year’s budget process, would also create an independent participatory budget office with an external oversight board.

Armani White, director of campaigns at the Center for Economic Democracy, an election issue proponent, said in a statement late Tuesday that the measure’s apparent success at the polls “is a grassroots mandate for progress led by Bostonians across the city”.

“A budget is a statement of value that should reflect everyone in its city and today we helped bring democracy to life by claiming our voice in the budget process,” said White.

Andres Del Castillo, executive director of Right to the City Boston and co-chair of the campaign supporting the ballot issue, said in the statement that supporters “look forward to ensuring that all voices are heard in our budget process at the election. ‘to come up”.

Critics said the ballot initiative could lead to a chaotic budget process.

Pam Kocher, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said the city’s finances are among the strongest in the nation, allowing it to continue providing community services in difficult times and making it competitive with others. big cities.

“Let’s not break the system just to appease a few loud voices,” she told The Globe last week.

Opponents of the electrical substation under consideration in Issue 2 said east Boston, already home to Logan International Airport and many industrial sites, is heavily burdened with environmental issues.

John Walkey, who lives in East Boston and works for GreenRoots, a Chelsea-based environmental justice group, told The Globe last week that he hoped the referendum would serve as “one more arrow in the quiver” in the fight to block the project.

Eversource, the utility behind the project, said the substation was needed to meet growing electricity demand in east Boston and ruled out flooding concerns.

An Eversource spokesperson said “the much-needed substation is critical to ensuring we can continue to safely and reliably serve our customers in East Boston,” The Globe reported last week.

Proponents of Question 3 say allowing residents to vote to select the school board, instead of having members appointed by the mayor, would give communities of color the power to hold school officials accountable.

As the votes were still being counted, Bostonians for an Elected School Board, the group that put the measure on the ballot, declared victory, saying the vote made it “perfectly clear” that city residents want elect committee members.

“Bostonians clearly believe that the current system of mayor-appointed school board members does not serve them well, and after 30 years of experience with an appointed school board, voters have overwhelmingly rejected it,” said the group in a press release.

Although the referendum is purely consultative, a victory at the polls could force the new mayor to cede control of the seven-member school committee.

In recent years, the body has increasingly caused controversy beyond approving budget cuts and school closures and mired itself in embarrassing missteps.

Two school committee chairs and another member resigned in the past year after making racially insensitive comments, while a student representative also resigned out of frustration that student concerns were not taken seriously. among other problems.

School board chair Jeri Robinson recently defended her board’s record of improving school programs and increasing public engagement, reports the Globe.

“We have heard hours of public testimony and have changed our approach based on what we have heard,” she said in a statement.

Any changes to school committee governance would require the approval of a home rule petition from the council, mayor, legislature, and governor. It’s unclear if voters will have another opportunity to weigh in on the issue. officially after Tuesday’s vote.


Jeremy C. Fox can be contacted at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.