Council’s $19.7 Billion Budget Passes Unanimously in Second Vote

Council passage of the District’s budget is a play in three acts (or Legislative Meetings).

In the meaty first act, the Council takes the first of two votes on two budget bills: the Local Budget Act, which includes the dollars-and-cents portion of the budget, and the Budget Support Act,which includes the legislative language necessary to implement the budgetary changes.

In the often uneventful second act, the Council votes on three measures: the second of two necessary votes is taken on the Local Budget Act, plus the sole needed votes are taken on two measures: the bill including the small (and decreasing) portion of our budget that encompasses federal funds, as well as the bill that determines how any excess revenue for the current fiscal year (ending September 30) will be spent prior to that year’s end.

Finally, in the brief but sometimes quirky third act, the Council takes its second of two necessary votes on the Budget Support Act.

The Council’s latest Legislative Meeting encompassed the budget production’s second act. A few amendments were made to the Local Budget Act prior to its unanimous second approval by the Council. One amendment shifted funds away from traffic safety in Ward 8, redirecting them to fund a new recreation center, in hopes of reducing future violence. Another amendment shifted funds from the Fish Market at the Wharf to fund incentives for grocery sales in food deserts. An additional amendment would direct supplemental revenue from the present fiscal year (if generated prior to September) first to an increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, then to fund an excluded worker payment program zeroed out by the mayor in her budget proposal. Finally, also funded via amendment was a study of how best to fill at gap in library services in the Adams Morgan/Dupont Circle/U Street area.

The Council’s second vote on the Local Budget Act reconfirmed the prior meeting’s critical Council action to reverse often extreme cuts suggested to the budget in the Mayor’s original budget proposal. Included in the Council-initiated funding add-backs that reversed mayoral cuts:

  • $35 million added back for the eviction prevention program known as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, level-funding it at $43 million total
  • $28.9 million in redistributed schools funding, to honor the law of the land here in the District, “Schools First in Budgeting,” which requires the District government to, at a minimum, level-fund each school year-to-year
  • $18.6 million added back to the Access to Justice civil legal representation program, level-funding it at $31.6 million
  • $16.5 million to bring back three Circulator bus routes the mayor had proposed eliminating
  • $12 million to fund 24-hour bus service on the District’s most used 13 bus lines
  • $10.5 million in domestic violence funding, including the restoration of $7.5 million cut by the mayor, with an additional $3 million added in by the Council
  • $8.8 million for the generational wealth-building “Baby Bond” program, resurrected from being zero-funded by the mayor
  • $6.7 million to enhance or correct at-risk appropriations at public and public charter schools
  • $5 million to redesign the reconstruction of nine blocks of K Street, NW, to be more responsive to all categories of potential users
  • 150 Permanent Supportive Housing vouchers for individuals and 80 for families, up from zero of each as suggested by the mayor
  • Re-established funding for the Criminal Code Reform Commission, previously zeroed out by the mayor, because their work is still necessary given the federal override of the District law implementing their years of work

Additionally, the Council’s budget provided funding for implementation of the domestic workers employment rights and street vending reform laws, put crime scene investigation responsibility back with the Department of Forensic Science, and accelerated planning/design for a new correctional facility for the District.

In other non-budget business, the Council began a debate on emergency legislation to determine just how much to reduce the current maximum 8.9 percent legally allowed bump in monthly rent for rent-controlled properties. A final vote on the measure was delayed until the Council’s next Legislative Meeting on June 6.

Speaking of upcoming Legislative Meetings, due to the fact that July 4th holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, there are only a scant few Tuesdays remaining before the traditional July 15 start to the Council’s summer recess. The third act of the Council’s budget action, our second vote on the Budget Support Act, will take place at either our June 6 or June 20 Legislative Meetings. Other than those two planned meetings, only one more Legislative Meeting will likely occur this summer: on July 11.