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Louisville To Require Equity Assessments In City Budgeting

City departments will have to consider equity in their funding requests, thanks to a new measure approved by Metro Council.

Implementation of the new policy will begin this spring, when the process of finalizing the next fiscal year’s budget begins.

The ordinance, which passed with unanimous support Thursday, calls for using tools created by Louisville’s Center for Health Equity to create an equity impact statement to accompany budget requests. Departments will set equity goals, and their success or failure to achieve them could inform their future budgets.

The point is to determine whether budget and allocation proposals help or harm communities or people that historically suffered discrimination.

For decades, Black people and other groups suffered economic disenfranchisement as a result of policies such as redlining, which prevented them from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. This occurred in Louisville and across the United States, and the impact on wealth access and other factors remains today.

Keisha Dorsey (D-3), a lead sponsor of the ordinance, said it has been in the works for years and builds on the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce race-based disparities across Louisville. This measure will create transparency and codify the commitment to equity, she said.

“There are quality control measures that are in place, there's some consistency measures that are also in place in this,” she said. “And one of the biggest things is it is starting this fiscal year.”

Kevin Kramer (R-11), a teacher, said the measure was an attempt to get council members to evaluate the budget in terms of where it is putting resources throughout the city. He said he teaches his students about the difference between equity and equality with an example about medication.

“Equality means that everybody gets the same amount of insulin, but it's only the persons who have diabetes that need the insulin,” he said. “So equity means we put the resources where the need is. It also recognizes that not everybody has the same illness, right?”

Mayor Greg Fischer will present a budget proposal to council in April, which lawmakers will refine and amend before passing a final budget in June. The next fiscal year begins on July 1.

Fischer on Thursday evening tweeted a statement of support for the ordinance. In the statement, he mentioned some of his efforts to pursue racial equity, including declaring racism a public health crisis late last year.

“Equity in budgeting is key to a more equitable distribution of resources, ensuring opportunities for all Louisvillians to achieve their full potential,” Fischer said in the statement.

Starting this year, departments will need to submit equity impact statements with their budget proposals. Those statements will include, at least, an equity vision statement, equity goals and equity key performance indicators, or performance measurements.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.