First Vote on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Today!
The DC Council will take its first and only vote on the fiscal year 2013 Budget Request Act today, and the first of two votes on the Budget Support Act. Chairman Kwame Brown released his proposal at about 11 p.m. last night, after the council spent weeks reviewing the proposed budget Mayor Gray released on March 23rd. DCFPI applauds Chairman Brown, Council Budget Director Jennifer Budoff and her staff, and members of the Council—particularly Councilmember David Catania (I-At-Large) and the Committee on Health staff—for finding resources to fund affordable housing, healthcare and other programs that will make the District a better city.
The Council’s Committee of the Whole will discuss the Chairman’s recommendations starting around 11 am today. The Council will then re-convene in a legislative session, make any further amendments, and cast the first and final vote on the Budget Request Act, the legislation that allocates dollars for next year. The Council will also cast the first of two votes on the Budget Support Act, the legislation that includes any new laws which need to be implemented for the budget. The second vote is scheduled for June 5.
Here’s a quick highlight reel of the Chairman’s proposal:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: $18 MILLION RESTORED TO THE HOUSING PRODUCTION TRUST FUND
The chairman’s proposal restores $18 million of the $20 million cut from the trust fund in Gray’s proposed budget by redirecting money from the sale of DC-owned property into the fund. The Mayor had proposed using funds from the sale of the property to build parks in the surrounding neighborhood, now known as NOMA. The Chairman’s proposal puts $18 million in funding for NOMA parks as number 4 on the contingency revenue list.
HOMELESS SERVICES: $4 MILLION ADDED TO LOCAL RENT SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM
Starting in June, under the chairman’s proposal, between 200 and 300 families in need of a place to live will be moved into stable housing through the rapid re-housing program. Then, in October, these families will be transferred to the rent supplement program, which provides housing subsidies. This will help alleviate the overcrowding at the DC General family shelter and hopefully allow the shelter to accept new families in need of emergency shelter.
The chairman’s budget also puts as number 5 on the contingency revenue list $1.7 million to add beds for homeless youth. It does not restore $7 million cut from homeless services due to a loss of federal funding, but keeps it as number one on the contingency funding list.
HEALTHCARE: $23 MILLION FOR THE DC HEALTHCARE ALLIANCE
The chairman’s proposal restores $23 million cut in the Mayor’s proposed budget from the DC HealthCare Alliance, the city’s public health insurance program for residents not covered under federal Medicaid. Sources say that negotiations between the Committee on Health Chairman David Catania and his staff, Mayor Gray and his budget team, and the Chief Financial Officer are on-going today. DCFPI will update through Twitter, @DCFPI.
EDUCATION: $2.6 MILLION FOR COLLEGE PREP AND A DIRECTIVE TO RIGHT-SIZE UDC
The Chairman’s proposal puts $2.6 million to fully fund the Raising the Expectations for Education Outcomes Omnibus Act. This legislation includes four programs: a community schools incentive initiative, a pilot teacher incentive program, a plan to ensure all students apply to a college as a requirement for graduation and to assist students with information on applying to college, as well as a pilot early warning and support system to identify students who are off track in grades four through nine.
The chairman’s proposal also establishes a charter schools admissions taskforce to study providing a neighborhood preference in charter school admissions for the 2013-2014 school year. The report will offer recommendations for how a neighborhood preference would be designed by Sept. 1, 2012. Before Feb. 15, 2013, the Office of Planning shall transmit to the Council and to the Healthy Schools and Youth Commission a comprehensive food services plan for the District that shall include the following: a plan to reduce the cost of providing food services in the District of Columbia Public Schools.
By Oct. 1, 2012, the beginning of next fiscal year, the University of the District of Columbia is expected to develop a right-sizing plan that outlines the steps that the university shall take to bring costs, staff, and faculty size in line with other comparable public universities.
TAXES: EXTEND ALCOHOL SALES THE NIGHT BEFORE HOLIDAYS AND MAJOR HOLIDAY WEEKENDS
The chairman’s proposed budget scales back the mayor’s proposed expansion of alcohol sales. Instead of making last call an hour later every day, the Chairman’s proposal allows bars to stay open until 4 a.m. the night before federal and District holidays. As well, for Memorial Day and Labor Day—and if New Year’s and July 4th create a holiday weekend by falling either on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday—extended hours apply to the entire weekend.
The Council also removed a tax proposal from the revenue contingency list that would have restored the tax break for interest on out-of-state bonds. The Council’s budget thus leaves in place last year’s compromise, which maintains the tax break for investments made prior to this year but eliminates the tax break for investments made in 2012 and beyond. The response to the city’s recent boost in DC bond sales suggests that demand to buy DC bonds among DC residents has increased, presumably as a result of this change.
Stay tuned to @DCFPI on Twitter throughout the day!