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Citizens Speak Out Against Cuts At Kansas City Budget Hearing

Kansas City, Mo., residents had one of their last chances to speak out about the city's proposed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year Saturday.

The biggest issues were incoming cuts to cultural facilities like the American Jazz Museum and safety net health clinics. The Jazz Museum alone stands to lose $125,000 in funding.

Several residents used the budget hearing to criticize Mayor Sly James and the City Council. One attendee even called James a "dictator" and claimed that he doesn't care about the urban core. James responded that he understands the city has ongoing issues with violence and poverty, but said that they are doing the best they can.

"There's not an urban center in this country where black people and brown people aren't undereducated and underemployed," James said. "But this is the first [Kansas City mayoral] administration that has an education advisor, and this is the first administration that goes and reads to and tutors kids, most of them black and brown."

Councilman John Sharp and several other council members said they will be looking at ways to restore funding to safety net medical providers, but made no promises. The city's finance committee will meet two more times before the budget is finalized on March 26. 

Residents are welcome to speak at the finance committee's meeting on March 4 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall. 

Correction: This post originally claimed that Saturday's hearing was the last public budget hearing. The post has been updated to include another public hearing on March 4. 

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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