Newsletter: Help Spend Our Budget Dollars!

Dear Resident,

Budget season is in full swing! Agencies are appearing before the Council for the next few weeks Kids_Lobby_Day_2.jpgas we make decisions about how to spend your tax dollars. Community meetings I’ve attended throughout budget season have brought timely conversations with District neighbors across the city about what my Council colleagues and I should be putting residents’ taxpayer dollars toward. I’ve visited at least one community meeting every week over the last couple months, and have been continually reminded of why I ran for office: to bring more transparency and accountability to the District’s budgeting and policymaking process.

Thank you to each of the residents that have attended meetings and asked questions, written in with their advocacy, called to voice concerns or support, and even showed up in-person at my office. These efforts are invaluable to me as a legislator and—in hopes of inspiring more people to do the same—I’ll be highlighting a neighbor’s efforts that stand out every month!

So for this week’s Neighbor(ly) News: Thanks to Ward 4 resident Eric Atilano for Kids_Lobby_Day_1.jpgorganizing last week’s #KidsLobbyDay at the Wilson Building! I met Eric at March’s ANC 4B meeting, and he followed up with my office about providing more opportunities for some of our youngest residents to be exposed to the legislative process at an early age. I heard from both kids and parents on the need for funding for a variety of issues—from full NEAR Act funding to school modernization. I had a lot to think about afterward and am looking forward to the next one.

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE BUDGET?

Upcoming Budget Hearings: Last week, District government took a break from its marathon of agency budget hearings to observe our annual spring recess. This week, hearings are back underway and will be ongoing until Thursday, May 11. As I’ve said before, now is the most critical time for your advocacy. There are several upcoming hearings outside of my Labor and Workforce Committee that I’m particularly interested in based on conversations with residents, as well as hearings that I have heard a number of residents express interest in attending. Those hearings include:

  • Department of Parks and Recreation: Wednesday, April 26
  • DC Public Schools: Thursday, April 27
  • Department of Motor Vehicles: Friday, April 28
  • DC Housing Authority: Thursday, May 4

Last Thursday, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute released their annual budget toolkit to help residents understand the District’s budget process and how to advocate on specific issues. Remember that, if you’re not able to attend hearings in-person but would like to comment, you can submit written testimony for the hearing record up to two weeks after the actual hearing date. I do read the written testimony! As always, feel free to reach out to my office with any questions about hearings of interest.

Providing Affordable Childcare to Working Families: I introduced legislation in 33832178091_a126a85540_m.jpgFebruary to study the District’s need and capacity for non-traditional hour childcare that provides a stable, safe option for shift and hourly workers outside the standard hours of 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The bill was co-introduced by five other Council members and discussed at an Education Committee public hearing last month. At an April 11 committee mark-up to determine the bill’s next steps, along with several related bills, the Education Committee unanimously voted to move the bill forward for a full Council vote.33804483952_18c9cc110e_m.jpg

I’m especially excited to see the proposal for this needs assessment progress after recently visiting Happy Faces Learning Center in Ward 5, one of the District’s few 24/7 childcare providers. You may have seen a past Washington Post article on the need Happy Faces’ 24-hour care fills for parents.

WHERE I’VE BEEN

Supporting Business Growth: As Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, I was glad to attend this year’s Eighth Annual Minority Business Expo hosted by the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber (GWHC). A thriving market of minority-owned businesses is one of the District’s strongest economic assets, and I look forward to continuing to work with GWHC and the broader minority business community to achieve this.PorchFest.jpg

Celebrating Our Local Arts Scene: Congratulations to Kyle Todd and Rhode Island Avenue Main Street for hosting a lively neighborhood Porch Fest in Ward 5 earlier this month! I had a delicious lunch from Carl’s Subs and kept my energy up with Zeke’s Coffee. I’m looking forward to next year!

Joining Community Meetings Across the City: Thank you to ANC 4D, ANC 2A, and my home commission, ANC 6C, for welcoming me at their most recent meetings this month! On the heels of the April 13 Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) budget hearing, I heard (and continue to hear) many resident questions about accountability in the District’s building process and commitment to protection from displacement with truly affordable housing options. Both of these issues are critically important to me, and I will be continuing to raise residents' questions publicly at hearings and in my meetings with agency leaders.

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Free Summer Enrichment Programs: Enrollment is now open for summer enrichment opportunities for current DC Public School students in grades K-8. Summer programs will run Monday, June 26 through Friday, July 28 from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., with some afternoon programs available from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Free breakfast and lunch will be served daily. You can learn more about available programs here and enroll online here. Contact dcps.summer@dc.gov with questions.

Workforce Needs Assessment Survey: The Workforce Investment Council is conducting a needs assessment survey as part of the District’s Career Pathways Community of Practice. The purpose of the survey is to gather information from those engaged in the District’s workforce development system as a provider, educator, business, or other partner. If applicable, I encourage you to take the survey to help plan future trainings and technical assistance offerings. The survey can be accessed here and will be open until Monday, May 1.

New Food Waste Drop-off Program: The Department of Public Works (DPW) launched its first citywide Food Waste Drop-Off program at Eastern Market’s farmers market last Saturday. Residents may now compost food waste generated at home for free. Food dropped off at all sites will be turned into compost soil, and sites in all eight wards will be announced by the first week of June. A full list of the drop-off locations and market opening dates, as well as information on how you can obtain free compost, is available here.

Take a look below for additional upcoming community opportunities:

I hope to see you advocating in the neighborhood or at the Wilson Building soon! Thanks for reading.

Elissa.