After months of agency-by-agency performance oversight and budget hearings by its eleven Committees, the Council took initial action on its interpretation of the budget first introduced by the Mayor back in April. In its sole action at its most recent Legislative Meeting, the Council unanimously passed the budget bills.
Due to the District’s unique status and relationship with Congress, our budgetary legislation has always been a many-headed hydra. The advent of local budget autonomy in last year’s budget was a giant step forward, but only added to the package of bills that comprise our budget.
The budget passed by the Council improved upon the Mayor’s proposal in the following ways:
•The Universal per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF), the keystone metric in schools funding, will increase by 3%, which is double the 1.5% proposed in the Mayor’s budget
•Concretely, this change will net $11.5 million in additional funds for DC Public Schools and $7.2 million for DC Public Charter Schools.
•Seven public and charter schools will see their renovations accelerated due to the Council’s proposed budget: Jefferson Middle School, West Education Campus, Capitol Hill Montessori School at Logan, Anne M. Goding Elementary School, Eaton Elementary School, and the Browne Education Campus.
•Daycares will also see a $4.5 million dollar bump due to an increase in the value of childcare vouchers.
•The remaining $20 million towards the full $40 million implementation cost of the Universal Paid Leave program is provided, allowing for the planned implementation of the program to move forward. That bill provides for eight weeks of leave for a new baby, six weeks to care for an ill relative, and two weeks for personal medical leave.
•An additional $8.7 million will be directed towards the fight to end homelessness, including a variety of housing and service programs for the homeless which have demonstrated success in the past
•The deed recordation tax for first-time homeowners will be cut, improving homebuying affordability.
•The Local Rent Supplement Program (LSRP) for very low income renters will be expanded by $3.4 million, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) will increase by $2.2 million to ensure kids’ benefits do not expire, and to allow adults the possibility of expanding theirs
•To ensure proper legal representation in eviction cases, $4.5 million in tenant legal fees will be covered. The Office of the Tenant Advocate will also be provided with expanded capacities.
•Adult learners will be allowed access to the same free transportation options available to their younger counterparts.
•An additional $8.3 million in arts and humanities funding will be provided.
•Funds will be increased for inspectors and permit processing at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).
The bills and reports comprising the budget are available at the bottom of the page here.
During Council debate, efforts to carve out two sub-elements (business and estate tax reforms) of a broader 2014 tax package were defeated by a 4-9 and 3-10 vote, respectively.
After the unanimous passage of the budget in its initial Council vote at the most recent meeting, the second votes (where needed) will come on June 13.