Budget Passes Unanimously on Second Vote, With School Site Switch and Additional Hospital Funding

The Council followed up on its unanimous first vote on the $15.5 billion FY 2020 budget two weeks ago with a second such vote at its most recent meeting.

Much of the Council’s budget approval schedule is determined by two factors: the date the Council sets for the Mayor to first introduce the budget, and the deadline (set by the Home Rule Act) exactly 70 days later by which the Council must approve it. That was the calendar arithmetic by which the Council’s second budget vote needed to occur at the most recent Legislative Meeting.

The budget initially put up for a vote at the most recent Legislative Meeting differed from that which was passed at the prior Legislative Meeting in several ways. A summary of the first set of changes, introduced by the Chairman just prior to the Memorial Day weekend, can be viewed here. Those changes included restoring Banneker High School to the full proposed $141 million, moving forward $35 million one fiscal year to accelerate hospital site preparation for the Saint Elizabeths Medical Center project, and redirecting a portion of Events DC reserves to the DC Housing Authority’s Public Housing Modernization Fund.

A second set of 16 changes was introduced by the Chairman from the dais at the most recent meeting. It included, among other changes, $4 million towards the annual subsidy for the United Medical Center.

A final set of changes came via amendment by members from the dais. Two such amendments swapped the locations where Banneker High School and Shaw Middle School will be built—with the un-renovated version of the former being renovated to house the latter, and vice versa. A feasibility study will also explore whether both schools could be located on the current Shaw site. Another amendment further (beyond the $4 million just referenced) increased the annual subsidy for the United Medical Center by $3 million, increasing the number from the originally proposed $15 million to $22 million. A final amendment from the dais shifted $4 million from the Housing Production Trust Fund to the Housing Preservation Fund, which helps tenants exercise their Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act rights.

In other action at the most recent meeting, bills were introduced which, if passed, would:

  • Better coordinate individual government agency drug testing policies to synchronize with District government human resources policies and medical marijuana laws to improve patient protection
  • Establish a fund for removal of underground storage tanks used to store petroleum and other dangerous chemicals
  • Establish a grant program to hire and retain qualified veterans with a service-related disability

The sole remaining budget vote, the second of two votes on the Budget Support Act (the bill which encapsulates the legislative changes the dollars-and-cents Local Budget Act necessitates) will follow in the coming weeks.

The Council’s next Legislative Meeting will be held on June 4.