A Certify-ably Good Time is Had by All as an Events-ful Budget Process Wraps Up

The budget is not one piece of legislation, it’s several. Its approval is not a single act, it’s a process. And while at times it seemed like we felt every minor bump in the road to its passage, that just made finally arriving at our destination all the more gratifying.

At our most recent Legislative Meeting, the Council cast its final substantial vote of the FY 2020 budget season. The Council had already voted twice on the Local Budget Act, the dollars-and-cents enumeration of next year’s budget, and the first time on the Budget Support Act (BSA), the bill that incorporates the legislative changes embodied by the budget numbers. With that in the rear-view, all that remained was the necessary second vote on the BSA.

In the days leading up to the second BSA vote, attention had been focused on the issue of how much money the semi-public organization Events DC has in its reserves, whether or not the Council could access those reserves, and for what purposes. While the Chief Financial Officer’s required certification of a balanced budget was in question at one point, in the end, the matter was settled in the Council’s favor, with $47 million in Events DC reserves being split between public housing repairs and improvements to the 911 system.

In changes to the BSA as approved at the most recent meeting, it included provisions that:

  • Direct $5.353 million of the Council’s increase in DCPS funding to the 31 schools primarily east of the River that received funding cuts in the Mayor’s proposed budget
  • Prohibit Events DC from spending any funds in FY 2019 or 2020 to purchase RFK Stadium or to encourage an NFL team to locate in DC, absent separate Council action
  • Postpone the Adams Morgan Line Hotel property tax abatement by one year, but require the release of the audit into its terms
  • Retain the dedicated arts funding and guaranteed independence of the Commission on the Arts and Humanities, but restores the appointment of the Chairperson to the Mayor
  • Narrows a prohibition from earlier in the budget process on issuance of building permits for government projects to only affect the RFK Stadium site and Franklin Park, and only until such time as the Office of Planning releases its long-stalled short-term rental study to the Office of Zoning

In other action at the same meeting, a measure passed that would clarify the regulations regarding District employee use of medical marijuana, protecting some workers who could have faced adverse action. Left for subsequent clarification was such use by those in “safety-sensitive” roles, who are not covered by the legislation passed at the most recent meeting.

New measures were introduced at the most recent meeting. If enacted, they would:

  • Seal eviction records
  • Prohibit female genital mutilation, or travel for such purpose
  • Clarify that alley housing is subject to the same affordable housing rules as non-alley housing
  • Establish a grant program to encourage perinatal health worker training and reduce maternal mortality

The Council will hold Legislative Meetings on June 25 and July 9, prior to our summer recess.

For a full list of all votes taken at the most recent Legislative Meeting, please click here.