We’ve Been Out around Town (and on the Dias!)
Over the past couple of months, I’ve shared quite a few updates about next year’s budget that my staff and I have been working hard to finalize with my Council colleagues. Yesterday, the Council voted on the Budget Request Act that proposes funding amounts for each District agency. The biggest news of the day: We are finally closing D.C. General and will open new ward-based family shelters in its place.
Chairman Mendelson introduced a revised shelter plan that I supported to ensure all the sites are built on District-owned land and use District dollars in the most cost-effective way. I believe this revised plan is also an improvement to shelter residents’ health and safety and provides better access to transportation and social services. By investing up front, we will have more money for supportive services and other important resources in years to come. There are still questions about some of the locations, but I look forward to working with the Chairman, my ward colleagues, Mayor Bowser, and the community to have a transparent and accessible process as we move toward finalization of the sites and development. I also want to commend Mayor Bowser for moving us forward on this critical issue. Ending family homelessness is an ambitious goal—and one that is not quick, easy, or inexpensive to accomplish.
A more detailed overview and timeline of the District’s budget process can be foundhere if you want to look ahead. I’ll share final thoughts on the budget next month, but this week let me catch you up on some non-budget news!
WHERE WE’VE BEEN
Building the Business Case for Paid Leave: From Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) re-introduction of a nation-wide paid family bill to Coca-Cola’s recent announcement of expanded parental leave benefits for moms and dads, paid leave is a growing part of the national push to take better care of working families. I recently attended a Department of Labor (DOL) roundtable with national and local business leaders that focused on the business case for paid leave. I heard from business leaders who discussed their paid family and medical leave policies, why they chose to adopt these policies, and what positive impacts they’ve seen on their employees and businesses. I’ve received numerous emails and letters from District businesses who want to provide critical benefits to their employees but were worried about cost, and the roundtable provided several examples of how businesses have built successful leave programs.
Employers spoke about how paid leave has been a key recruitment tool, as well as a great way to invest not only in the professional development of employees but in the personal development as well. And often those work together! One memorable comment from an executive of SAP, a large software and IT consultant, is that she has found that when new parents return to the workplace they often return as stronger leaders!
Another participant was D.C. native Dan Turner. Dan is the CEO of TCG, Inc., a small District-based IT and management consulting company. He grew up in Ward 3, has his current office in Ward 5, has his new office in Ward 1, and lives in Ward 4. TCG also has employees in almost every ward. They currently offer three weeks of paid family leave to their employees, but Dan would love to offer more if the company could afford it. He joins a long list of other District businesses who support a paid leave system that would allow him to offer a more comprehensive leave policy.
You can watch the roundtable discussion here to hear Dan’s thoughts, and those of the other panelists from Nestlé, Spotify, Patagonia, and SAP. Thank you to DOL Secretary Thomas Perez for continuing to prioritize this issue for the many working families who need the protection and support!
Increasing Rider Safety on Metro: Last week, Sam Rosen-Amy in my office joined WMATA board member Corbett Price and Ward 7 ANC commissioners and neighbors for a walkthrough of the Deanwood metro station to address safety concerns following two tragic deaths at the station. This follows numerous conversations I’ve had with neighbors and concerned residents asking what the long-term plan is to address Metro’s increasingly public problems. Even President Obama has commented on the need to invest more intentionally in rebuilding Metro’s infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Metro released a plan outlining large-scale track work that will be happening in the near future across the entire Metro system. Metro’s SafeTrack plan is intended to immediately and comprehensively address the maintenance and infrastructure issues identified earlier this year when General Manager Paul Wiedefeld shut down the Metro for 24 hours of equipment inspection.Safety comes first, and I support plans to make sure that all Metro riders in the region can ride as safely as possible, as quickly as possible. There are still adjustments being made to the SafeTrack Plan to make sure it works smoothly, but here’s an overview of what to expect.
If you have questions about Metro’s long-term plan or concerns about safety to share, you can contact Sam Rosen-Amy in my office at [email protected].
Connecting District Residents with District Jobs: With all the talk about budget and spending dollars, several weeks ago I took a break from the budget to welcome hundreds of job seekers to meet with workforce training partners and employers at Arena Stage for an all-day job fair. The annual D.C. Spring Career Fair came right on time, and I was thrilled to co-host the event with Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen for a second year! We even kicked off the event with a job offer from Thomas Penny, General Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center and one of our champion career fair partners. He offered a housekeeping job at his hotel to a hardworking, persistent applicant who had been first in line that morning, ready to go when the doors opened. That hardworking applicant has now settled into her new job in Penn Quarter, and I was honored to present Jamia with her first check last week.
Huge thanks to Pat Joseph and Charnisa Royster in my office for the time and energy helping to coordinate the event, as well as Councilmember Allen and his office, Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Development Courtney Snowden, and Arena Stage for their partnerships!
As always, thanks so much for reading. Stay tuned for more exciting District and budget news soon!