Unanimous Council Passes FY 2018 Budget

Following its first of two needed votes on next year’s budget, the Council has now voted unanimously for a second time in support of the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.

This $13.8 billion funding plan was built upon the initial budget that Mayor Bowser presented to the Council on April 6. After each agency of the District government appeared before Council committees twice, first in a performance oversight hearing, then again in a budget hearing, the 11 Council committees each approved the portion of the budget under their jurisdiction. The combined result of their efforts, further modified to meet additional needs, was what the Council approved on May 30. Based on community and other feedback, the budget was adjusted once more into what passed at the most recent meeting.

Among the highlights of the Council’s budget as passed are:
•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, Shaw Middle 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.
•$16.8 million will be provided towards an Infrastructure Academy housed on the St. Elizabeth’s campus, where trade unions and the University of the District of Columbia will train workers for jobs with Metro and local utilities.
•Full funding will be provided for the Benning Road Streetcar extension, with a planned FY 2023 opening.
•The Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program will be permanently expanded to cover DC residents age 22 to 24, and maintains the 21,000 slots for the program.
•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 lowered, 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 offers resources needed for adults to secure and maintain paid employment.
•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 action at the most recent legislative meeting does not quite complete the Council’s budget work for the year. A final piece of budget legislation still requires a second vote. That bill, the Budget Support Act (BSA), incorporates any actual legislative changes that lie behind the dollars-and-cents of the more quantitative budget bills. The second vote on the BSA has yet to be scheduled.

The next scheduled Legislative Meeting of the Council will take place on June 27.