This year’s budget was one of the most important in DC history, as residents faced unprecedented health care needs, fell behind on rent, struggled to keep their businesses afloat, and lost ground in remote learning. The need among DC’s Black and brown communities, particularly women of color, is severe due to years of policies and practices that disadvantaged them and privileged white residents in employment, education, and wealth building opportunities. The District needed to prioritize new and bold investments to address the greatest harms of the pandemic, advance equity, and boost our long-term economic prospects. Read more about the Black burden of COVID-19 and Budget Principles for a Strong and Equitable Pandemic Recovery.
Analysis of Key Issue Areas
Every service DC provides, such as trash collection, public education, and community centers, appears in the budget every year. The budget is the central tool for addressing challenges like widening racial inequities in access to affordable housing, quality health care, and educational opportunities. See below for deep dives into how DC lawmakers invested in each issue area.
- PreK-12 Education:Greater Investments in Public Education Still Fail to Set a Roadmap for Transformation and Equity
- Affordable Housing: Federal Dollars and Modest Tax Increase Enable Unprecedented Investment in Affordable Housing
- Inclusive Economy: The District Moves Toward a More Inclusive Economy for Black Workers, Communities, and Businessowners
- Public Safety: DC Budget Continues Reliance on Law Enforcement, but Includes Major New Investments in Violence Prevention
- Revenue: New Local and Federal Revenue Help Advance Tax and Racial Justice and Helps Residents Thrive
- Income and Health Supports: DC Fails to Invest in Vital Health and Income Support Programs Despite Moment of Great Need
- Early Childhood Education: Early Childhood Investments Make Early Educator Compensation More Equitable and Stabilize the Child Care Sector
American Rescue Plan
In March 2021, Congress passed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The District was allotted $3.4 billion in direct federal relief funds, some targeted to specific needs like child care or schools, but most of it flexible dollars that the Council had the opportunity to use to address the deep harms of the pandemic.
In May, DCFPI and 76 other organizations sent Mayor Bowser and the DC Council a letter urging them to use the ARP funds on intentional investments and interventions in a timely way, with a laser focus on targeting those most in need and addressing the racial inequities that have excluded Black and brown communities and left them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis.
Absent the federal dollars, the District’s budget would have severely fallen short of reducing hardship and jumpstarting a just recovery.
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Timeline
DC’s fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30. Although the Mayor usually submits a proposed Budget and Financial Plan in March, the passage of the ARP by Congress prompted her to delay her proposal until the end of May when the amount of additional federal aid coming to DC and allowed uses would be clear. Read more about the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Timeline and see below for our real-time analysis throughout budget season on the Mayor’s budget proposal, Council committee markups, and where the budget stood after the first Council vote.
- Three Things We Know About the Mayor’s Education Budget So Far
- Statement: Mayor Bowser’s Budget Takes Major Steps Forward but Misses Key Needs
- Failure to Build a High-Quality Child Care System is a Major Misstep in the Mayor’s Budget
- 3 Takeaways from Mayor Bowser’s Budget: Some Big Investments, Some Key Misses
- 80 Percent of DC Voters Support Raising Local Taxes on High-Income Residents to Sustain DC’s Economic Recovery, with Strong Support for Investments in Child Care and Housing
- Affordable Housing Investments and Transparency Should Be Council Priorities During Committee Markups
- Excluded Workers Demand Inclusion: $200 Million Investment is Essential Though Less than Half of What’s Needed
- “Tax Flight” is a Myth; DC Should Raise Taxes on the Wealthy for a Just Recovery
- Committee Leaves DC Police Budget Largely Untouched But Advances Police-Free Schools
- DC Budget Markups: Council Boosts Funding for Some Services but Substantial Shortcomings Remain
- The Latest Plan for Increased Child Care Educator Pay Offers Too Little, Too Late
- Work to Advance Racial Equity in the Budget Is Incomplete
- Statement: DC Council’s Budget Takes Big Step in Ensuring a Just Recovery and Future
- Statement: Budget is Progress Towards Racial and Economic Justice
- The Black burden of COVID-19
- Budget Principles for a Strong and Equitable Pandemic Recovery
- A Resident’s Guide to the DC Budget
- Revenue: Where DC Gets Its Money
- Guide to School Funding
- Visualizing the DC Police Budget
Become a Budget Advocate
Residents of DC and advocates have several opportunities to weigh in on the budget throughout the year, including the Council’s hearings on agency performance and spending and the final Council hearing on the Mayor’s proposed budget.
The fight for equity and justice is imperative and we can’t do it without you. Sign up to DCFPI’s email list or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so we can send you regular updates on our efforts and ways you can get involved. You can also learn more about the Just Recovery DC campaign on Twitter.