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Brooke's Briefing: The Council Holds First Budget Vote on Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Legislation

Posted by
Emmanuel Brantley
on
July 20, 2021

Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Ward2



Opening Remarks

Dear Neighbor,

Today, the Council convened for the first budget votes on the Fiscal Year 2022 Local Budget Support Act of 2021 and the Fiscal Year 2022 Local Budget Act of 2021, legislation that will dictate the spending of our local dollars and provide the legislation needed to ensure that our priorities are met.

At the start of this budget cycle, I shared with you my goals of ensuring that we come together to support our small businesses, expand affordable housing options especially for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, empowering women and girls, and making our neighborhoods and communities safer for all residents.

In this letter, I am proud to share with you some of the priorities we are funding to meet the needs of Ward 2 families, residents, and businesses, as well as taking very important steps to improve outcomes in the areas of childcare, education, transportation and sustainability, and the arts for residents across the city.

Councilmember Pinto and her colleagues during the first budget vote on Tuesday, July 20th

Today, I also voted against a tax increase proposed and ultimately passed by my colleagues. I’ve included my reasoning for that vote below at the bottom of this letter.

Again, today was just the first of three budget votes. The next vote will take place on Tuesday, August 3rd, where we will vote on the accompanying federal budget legislation, which directs our spending of federal dollars. We will also take our second and final vote on the Fiscal Year 2022 Local Budget Act of 2021. On Tuesday, August 10th, we will hold our final vote on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Support Act of 2021.

I am grateful to the many neighbors and individuals whose advocacy helped us to achieve so many of our goals this budget cycle. To watch the upcoming budget votes live, visit www.dccouncil.us/events.

Yours In Service,

Brooke

Education and Youth Development

  • $168 million in childcare subsidy investments, including for a pilot program to ensure that childcare workers are paid more.
  • $74.2 million between FY22-27 to modernize the School Without Walls at Francis Stevens.
  • $18.5 million for the Out of School Time fund to provide youth with to provide safe, supervised venues for our young people to explore intellectual, artistic & social activities.
  • $8 million for the School Based Mental Health Initiative to increase school-based mental health supports in all DC Public School (DCPS) and DC Public Charter School (DCPCS) location.
  • $3 million for the design of a new Shaw Middle School.
  • $1.6 million to fund the Student Access to Period Products Act, legislation that I introduced to provide free period products in all public and private educational institutions throughout the District of Columbia and institute a related curriculum in DCPS schools. This bill will be voted on in the fall and is expected to pass.
  • $1.5 million to address pay equity at Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
  • $750,000 to support a teacher pipeline for DCPS and DCPCS schools.
  • $250,000 to renovate the Thomson Elementary School playground.

Public Recreation and Transportation

  • $115 million FY22-27 for the K Street Transitway, providing additional protected bike lanes in downtown DC.
  • $27 million to fully modernize Jelleff Recreation Center.
  • $731,000 plus federal funding for the Dupont Deckover Project.
  • $700,000 to returf the field at Volta Park.
  • $612,809 for the Pennsylvania Avenue Streetscape project.
  • $500,000 for a Georgetown livability study that analyzes multi-modal transportation options.

Public Safety

  • $12.3 million to the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) for new violence interrupters, and to expand the Pathways Program to serve 100 more residents.
  • $23 million for the Access to Justice Initiative to provide free legal services to low- and moderate-income residents.
  • $1.7 million to expand the MPD’s Cadet Program from 100 to 150, ensuring that we have a strong local presence on our police force.
  • $1.2 million to the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor for the creation of a Deputy Auditor for Public Safety.
  • $997,000 for Restorative Justice Program at the Office of the Attorney General to address the root problems of crime and conflict, and offer juvenile prosecutors an alternative to traditional prosecution.
  • $864,000 to add an additional site under the Cure the Streets Program for a total of seven sites across the city.
  • $603,000 to the Office of Human Rights to hire 4 staffers to support case processing and 1 Attorney Advisor to oversee the implementation of the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020.

Small Business Support and Employment Services

  • $105 million to expand the Universal Paid Leave fund to expand medical leave benefits from 2 weeks to up to 6 weeks and add 2 weeks of pre-natal leave benefits.
  • $40 million in the Hotel BRIDGE Fund to support the post-pandemic recovery of our hospitality industry.
  • $40 million rent relief for small business, the landlord will forgive one-third of the past due rent; small business owner would pay one-third of the past due rent; and the District would pay the remaining third.
  • $35 million to support exclude workers and to exempt those funds and other unemployment funds from taxation.
  • $2 million to support the Golden Triangle BID’s business innovation district.
  • $800,000 to make small businesses in Ward 2’s Great Streets corridors eligible for grant funding through the Department of Small and Local Business Development.
  • $500,000 to provides opportunities to expand IT training opportunities and build up the District’s nursing workforce through the University of the District of Columbia.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness Supports

  • $400 million for the production and preservation of affordable housing through the Housing Production Trust Fund.
  • $95 million for permanent supportive housing vouchers to house 2,209 neighbors experiencing homelessness.
  • $50 million for repairs to public housing properties, including Horizon House and Claridge Towers in Ward 2.
  • $11.7 million to establish a new Department of Buildings.
  • $5 million to fund the Generating Affordability in Neighborhoods (GAIN) Act, to offer tenants earning less than 30% or 50% of the Median Family Income rental units at a cost equal to no more than 30% of their income.
  • $1.4 million for a first of its kind reentry housing and services program which will offer 70 shorter term single rooms and apartments, with a preference for returning citizens, and wrap around services for all residents, including workforce development programs for returning citizens.
  • $479,000 for dedicated housing vouchers to prevent the isolation of LGBTQQIA+ seniors.

An Explanation of Today's Tax Proposal and Vote

After many discussions with advocates across the city for the needs of child care workers and housing vouchers, the Council made historic investments in this year’s budget. Prior to the tax vote the budget included: $100MM for child care subsidy, a pilot program to increase the pay of child care workers, and $42 million dollars for permanent supportive housing vouchers for our neighbors experiencing homelessness to move over 1,500 people into housing. These are needed investments and I am so grateful that through strong collaboration, we were able to secure this needed funding for these extremely important causes.

Today, my colleagues proposed to raise income taxes which I voted against. There is a huge need in the city, and the programs funded through the proposed tax are critically important. However, I don’t believe that circulating a bill that has enormous effects on our tax code less than 24 hours before it receives a vote is how we should legislate – particularly on our tax code.

As a former tax attorney for our city, I do not believe passing an ad hoc tax is the right way to create tax policy. The Council voted to establish a Tax Revision Commission. This entity is entirely devoted to evaluating our tax code, understanding where loopholes and weaknesses exist, and developing evidence-based recommendations to make our tax code equitable. In this way, the Tax Reform Commission is working to ensure that our tax code best serves all residents and considers the District's long-term success within our region.

We should give the Tax Revision Commission a chance to do its job. We know a body like this can bring about effective and immediate change – just look at the Police Reform Commission. Some had doubts about the body when it was first created, but when we entrusted the experts, they went above and beyond what we expected and created a set of recommendations, many of which we are already passing into law. I know that as a city, we must work together to ensure that we maintain our status as a great place to live, work, and play, and I will continue to fight for a pragmatic approach to accomplishing our priorities.

For these reasons, I voted against the tax proposal today.


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