Mayor Fenty’s proposal to address a $188 million budget shortfall for the current budget year continues a pattern of balancing the budget largely with cuts in services. The proposal would scale back a wide array of services ‘ from street and alley paving to libraries to adult job training. Yet the largest share of the cuts ‘ 39 percent’ would fall on services for low-income residents, even though these programs represent just 26 percent of the locally funded budget and have been cut substantially over the past three years.
More than half of the gap-closing ‘ $111 million ‘ would come from cuts in a broad range of services, according to an analysis by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. The proposal also reflects $32 million in reduced expenses for certain services, $19 million in greater use of federal funds, and $21 million from tapping unspent resources in special funds. Only $2.5 million would come from new fees — an increase in DC’s hospital tax from $1,500 per licensed bed to $2,000, and an increase in parking rates at Metro lots. (Other measures listed as “revenue initiatives” mainly reflect tapping resources from existing special accounts.) This means that the proposal includes more than $40 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases.
The new proposal cuts even deeper into city agencies that have already seen budgets reduced over the past three years due to the Great Recession. The Fiscal Year 2011 budget approved last spring was already $600 million lower than the budget in Fiscal Year 2008, adjusting for inflation. The Mayor’s new proposal to close the FY 2011 budget gap would make further cuts in a wide array of services: adult job training, tree trimming and planting, police training, out-of-school-time programs, arts funding, affordable housing, child care, and small business assistance, among others. It would halt implementation of the new Healthy Schools Act, which is intended to increase the nutritional quality of school meals. And it would require DC government employees to pay a higher share of their health care costs.
Yet while the proposed cuts would affect all parts of the city’s budget, they would fall most heavily on services for DC’s lowest-income residents.
More than One-Third of the Cuts Would Affect Services for Low-Income Residents: Some $43 million of the cuts — 39 percent — would affect low-income programs, even though these programs make up just 26 percent of DC’s locally funded budget. The cuts to low-income services far exceed the proposed cuts to other program areas.
- The low-income cuts would affect services that meet residents’ most basic needs. The proposal would cut cash assistance to poor families with children, to poor residents with disabilities, and to grandparents caring for grandchildren. It would also cut funding for housing assistance, child care, and energy assistance, among other programs.
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