DC Needs a Budget that Adequately Supports Economic Opportunity, Helps All Residents Thrive

The DC budget provides the building blocks of thriving communities—things like affordable homes, strong schools, quality jobs, and family economic supports—and it’s our key tool for ending persistent racial and economic inequities. The budget is the primary way to show our leaders’ values and vision for the city we want to be.

In a city marked by both construction cranes and tent encampments, it’s crucial for the Mayor and DC Council to approve a fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget that adequately and equitably invests to help every person reach their potential and create more inclusive economic growth.

The FY 2021 budget starts October 2020, but the debate is already underway. DCFPI has a series of recommendations on using the budget to raise and allocate DC’s resources to address our city’s challenges and create a promising future for all DC residents. You can read a detailed summary of DCFPI’s budget priorities here; and more detailed recommendations are linked in each policy section below.

Affordable Housing

The budget should put DC on a path toward completely meeting the affordable housing needs of families with extremely low incomes. DC’s enormous affordable housing challenges call for a bold response, so the budget should increase investments not just in the Housing Production Trust Fund, but also in programs that reach the most hard-pressed families—the Local Rent Supplement Program and funds to repair and preserve DC’s public housing stock. Read more.


The budget should make big strides towards reaching DC’s goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. Stable housing is out of reach for thousands of District residents, many of whom have lived in the District their entire lives and are finding themselves priced out. The budget should increase investments in housing for individuals, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, resources to help survivors of domestic violence stay safe, street outreach, and homelessness prevention. Read more.

Public Education

The budget can unleash residents’ potential and boost productivity by adequately and equitably investing in public schools and public charter schools, where per-student funding remains below recommended levels. To close this adequacy gap, the budget should increase the per-student funding formula by 6 percent and increase at-risk and English-learner funds. The budget also should provide stabilization funds to declining enrollment schools and boost school-based behavioral health services, among other crucial investments. Read more.

Early Childhood Education

The budget should ensure that all of DC’s children have affordable access to an enriching, high-quality early childhood learning environment and early childhood educators are compensated fairly. The budget should increase reimbursement rates to cover the full cost of high-quality care and education and ensure that early educator pay is in line with their peers’ earnings. It should also make new investments in early childhood mental health services. Read more.

Immigrants’ Health

The budget should eliminate access barriers that families face in Healthcare Alliance, a health insurance program that primarily serves low-income immigrants. DC imposes frequent recertification requirements, among other barriers, that contribute to both poor health outcome and unnecessarily high program costs. Removing these barriers is important to ensuring access to health care for all DC residents and to making the Healthcare Alliance a more effective program. Read more.

Inclusive Economy

The budget should rebalance power in the economy to broaden shared prosperity. To create an economy that supports the well-being of every DC resident, the budget should boost investments in workforce development, income supports, equitable economic development, and other things that matter to businesses, like education and transportation. The budget should also fund the provisions to protect tipped workers that were promised when the Council repealed Initiative 77, expand Interim Disability Assistance to more residents, and prevent displacement of legacy small businesses. Read more.


Tax policy is our key tool to ensure adequate revenue to meet growing needs so all DC residents can benefit from our city’s growing prosperity. By asking DC’s richest households and profitable businesses to pay their fair share, we can reduce taxes for others and still have more revenue to invest in things that strengthen our communities, like schools. The budget should only include tax changes that advance fairness or lead to savings or new revenue, such as closing tax loopholes for corporations, expanding the DC Earned Income Tax Credit, repealing the poorly targeted tax credit for child care expenses, and repealing and replacing the DC College Savings Plan tax deduction. Read more.