Newsletter: We Passed the FY18 Budget!
This Tuesday, we passed the budget! Over the last eight weeks, I’ve worked with my staff, colleagues, advocates, and residents to help craft an FY18 budget that helps working families, workers and jobseekers, adult learners, and small businesses. Thank you for your continued engagement on these issues and others. As I wrote last month, your advocacy and dedication is extremely valuable to me as a legislator and I will continue highlighting these efforts.
This month’s Neighbor(ly) News focus is on George Washington University (GWU) rising junior Adam Graubart. Adam tirelessly advocated for the passage of last year’s paid family leave law and has been focused on ensuring that the bill is fully funded—all while balancing a full academic course load, a leadership role at GWU's Roosevelt Institute Chapter, and participation in the GWU Band. It’s not every day that the Council hears testimony from college students, but it is an important visual reminder for me and my colleagues that all District residents are affected by our legislative decisions. And, it is people like Adam who we want to stay in the District to help keep it thriving. Because of programs like paid family leave, residents like him will want to stay and build their lives here.
Thanks to Adam and the many champions of paid leave, the Council not only passed the law last year but also fully funded the program this week—adding an additional $20 million in the FY18 budget for start-up costs and infrastructure. Keep reading to see what else is included in next year’s budget!
WHAT’S IN THE BUDGET?
Every year my colleagues and I have to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate the funds that we have, while also meeting urgent needs and building new opportunities for residents. Getting more District residents into living wage careers, building career pipelines into our biggest economic sectors, and protecting workers’ rights on the job continue to be the biggest priorities of my Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
Passing a Progressive FY18 Budget: Since becoming chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, my Committee staff and I have made significant strides in reviewing the performance of the District’s labor and employment agencies and undertaking significant long-term efforts to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. I believe that our investments in the FY18 budget put us on track towards making sure jobseekers and our hardest-to-employ residents are best served.
My staff and I also spent many long nights scouring this year’s budget to find funding that bridges urgent gaps for residents and workers—gaps in transportation, child care, legal assistance, and emergency support. I especially want to thank the advocates who worked diligently with my staff to secure funding that will now provide transportation assistance to the nearly 7,000 adult learners trying to complete their education. My hope is that these efforts, and this year’s budget, take meaningful steps toward building a more fair and equitable city.
Below are investments my staff and I secured through my Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in the FY18 budget to make sure that more resources are available to jobseekers and workers, and that our workforce training programs continue to improve:
- $2 million to eliminate transportation barriers for approximately 7,000 adult learners in the District through a new Adult Learners Transportation Fund
- $480,000 in reallocated funds to support more participants working to become job-ready and secure full-time employment through the Transitional Employment and Career Connections programs at the Department of Employment Services
- $278,000 to fund two new attorneys at the Office of the Attorney General to focus on significant cases of wage theft, a growing worker concern in the District
- $281,000 to make necessary security improvements and improve the accessibility of information on the websites and databases of the Office of Employee Appeals and Public Employees Relations Board
- $31,200 allocated to recruit and retain skilled leadership by increasing the stipends for the Board of Directors at the Office of Employee Appeals and at the Public Employees Relations Board
We also worked with several of my colleagues to secure the following investments outside of my Committee:
- $20 million to build a paid family leave program for District residents and workers, bringing the total funding commitment to the full $40 million needed
- $150,000 to assess citywide need for more non-traditional child care providers and need to increase available and accepted child care subsidies
- $50,000 to increase burial assistance available to very low-income District families who experience an untimely loss of a loved one
Many of you also raised concerns about urgent funding needs for education and public schools, housing, public safety, and social services. I want to highlight additional budget dollars that were included towards those areas as well:
- $113.5 million to create a safer learning environment for students at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan ($35M) and West Elementary School ($78.5M)
- $18.7 million to raise the school per-pupil investment to 3%
- $29 million to enhance arts and humanities programming in the District
- $20 million to create a new housing preservation fund to maintain currently affordable housing
- $2.1 million to boost holistic public safety efforts through the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will also receive two new housing code inspectors, two new building code inspectors, one new zoning technician, and one new permit reviewer to better identify problem rental properties and illegal construction.
Lastly, I want to thank Councilmember Nadeau for her leadership and work with Kelly Hunt on my staff to correct a problem with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that has forced some District families deeper into poverty. Through this budget, the 60-month time limit for receiving TANF assistance is being eliminated and recipients’ cash payments are being divided into Child Enrichment Grants and Parent Grants to improve the chances that at least some cash will always be available to families with urgent needs. The sanction structure for noncompliant recipients will also now only impact the Parent Grants portion, helping to ensure that children remain a priority.
Voting Against Inequitable Tax Cuts: You may have also seen that the budget includes a round of tax cuts for the District’s wealthiest residents and big businesses. On Tuesday, I joined three of my colleagues in voting against an estate tax cut, which I believe ultimately widen the inequality gap for residents who have urgent housing, workforce, and child care needs. I also voted in favor of an amended business tax cut with two of my colleagues. You can read my statements here on why I believe the estate tax cut hurts low-income residents and why the business tax cut could more effectively aid small businesses. I thank Councilmember Grosso for his leadership and will continue to work toward—and vote on—legislation that I believe creates the most equitable opportunities for residents and spends your taxpayer dollars wisely.
My staff and I look forward to taking advantage of the spring weather out in the community and hope to see you in the neighborhood! Take a look at upcoming community events below:
- Taste of North Capitol Main Street: Thursday, June 1, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. at the NPR Atrium (1111 North Capitol St. NE)
- 34th Annual Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk: Free museum entry to five museums from Saturday, June 3, through Sunday, June 4
- Jazz ‘n Families Fun Day: Saturday, June 3, from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at The Phillips Collection (1600 21st St. NW)
- Glover Park Day: Saturday, June 3, from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at Guy Mason Recreation Center (3600 Calvert St. NW)
- 2nd Annual Peace Rally: Saturday, June 3, at 11:30 a.m. in front of KIPP DC (4801 Benning Rd SE)
- East of the River Homeownership Fair and Town Hall: Saturday, June 3, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Thurgood Marshall Academy (2427 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE)
- Jazz ‘n Families Fun Day: Sunday, June 4, from 12:00-7:00 p.m. at The Phillips Collection (1600 21st St. NW)
- NoMa Summer Screen Kick Off: Wednesday, June 7, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at NoMa Junction @ Storey Park (1005 First St. NE)
- 2017 Truck Touch: Saturday, June 10, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at RFK Stadium Lot 1 (located off of Oklahoma Ave. NE)
- Capitol Hill Arts Workshop 45th Birthday Bash & Community Celebration: Saturday, June 10, from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th St. SE)
- PRIDE Parade: Saturday, June 10, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. beginning at 22nd & P Streets NW and ending at 14th & R Streets NW
- Impact Day Innovation Workshop for Students (8th-12th grade): Friday, June 9, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Verizon Center (601 F Street NW)
- Trinidad Garden Tour: Sunday, June 11, at 1:00 p.m. at Tony’s Secret Garden (1130 Montello Ave NE, at the corner of Montello and Morse). Pre-tour social at 12:00 p.m.
- Statehood Lobby Day: Monday, June 12, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol. RSVP needed.
- Congresswoman Norton’s Annual Small Business Fair: Thursday, June 15, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW)
Thanks so much for your continued advocacy and have a great rest of the week.