Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Budget update, May 15

Today the DC Council takes the first and only vote on the budget request act and the first of two votes on the budget support act.   The council's budget office has circulated two documents related to the BRA vote: the BRA committee report (PDF) and the draft BRA committee print ((the legislation) (PDF).

There are three documents related to the FY 2013 BSA: Chairman Kwame Brown's transmittal letter to the council (PDF), BSA committee report (PDF), and the draft BSA committee print (the legislation) (PDF).

Chairman Brown's letter to colleagues is also here:

Dear Colleagues:

With this circulation of the Committee of the Whole’s Report and Recommendations on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget and Financial Plan, we have neared the end of a long and arduous process of review and analysis. I want to extend my thanks to all of you and your staff for your many hours of hard work on the Council’s budget.

The Council took what the Mayor presented as a $119 million dollar Contingent Revenue List and stretched existing resources to cover half—nearly $60 million dollars— without raising taxes or fees.

Through our combined efforts, we have created a budget proposal that funds important initiatives that strengthens our education system; increases the production of affordable housing so that families can afford to live in the District; protects vital safety net services that serve thousands of disadvantaged men, women, and children; cares for our seniors, who have spent their lives living and working in the District; enhances economic development to ensure our city’s fiscal stability and a bright financial future; prioritizes a family-friendly investments in the District and promotes vibrant neighborhoods; and presents a strong case for District autonomy.

The Council’s budget recommendations on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Act and Budget Support Act demonstrate our support for our children by fully funding the Raising the Expectations for Education Outcomes Omnibus Act; funding 2 new middle schools in Ward 5; directing funds sufficient to fully modernize Johnson Middle School in Ward 8; and mandating that UDC develop a right-sizing plan to bring the University’s costs, staff, and faculty size in line with comparable institutions.

To promote our common goal of increasing access to affordable housing, this proposal identifies and directs an additional $18 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund; increases the Local Rent Supplement Program by $4 million to ensure that homeless families can transition from motels and emergency shelters into stable housing; provides a significant boost of $2.5 million to the Home Purchase Assistance Program to further expand access to homeownership; and funds a permanent real property tax and deed transfer and recordation tax exemption for non-profit developers who use low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) to build low-income affordable housing.

We worked collaboratively with Councilmember David Catania and Mayor Vincent Gray to find a responsible way to fund the continuation of the DC Healthcare Alliance, which provides free or reduced-cost medical and hospital care to our residents who are most in need. We also restored $2.1 million of cuts to the Office of Victim Services to allow it to continue its vital work to combat the effects of domestic violence. Our drive to extend a helping hand to vulnerable residents also led us to fund important programs for our seniors, including the In-Home and Continuing Care Program and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Recognizing the need to continue to invest in the economic growth of the District, we found a way to fund the Small Business Technical Assistance Program; transferred $3 million to support the tourism industry, a major pillar of the District’s economy; created the first Retail Priority TIF Area for Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast to catalyze the development that is sorely lacking in this neighborhood; and funded the creation of the Eckington Small Area Plan as well as the capital improvements recommended by the Rhode Island Small Area Plan.

We have worked hard to prioritize a family-oriented, family-supportive budget, by investing $2.1 million in our libraries’ circulation fund and $6.8 million in the arts, and by funding the renovation of over 20 neighborhood playgrounds across all 8 Wards and, for good measure, a dog park.

We have included language in the Budget Request Act, based on the Lieberman-Collins-Akaka Budget Autonomy bill, currently under consideration in the Senate, which authorizes DC to change its fiscal year and allows adoption of local budget and supplements by Act of the Council. Our recommendations changes the budget review period from 56 days to 70 days; clarifies that only a single vote is needed on Budget Act; clarifies that only 30 calendar days, not session days, are needed for Congressional review; and includes anti-shutdown and anti-deficiency provisions, which will allow the District government to continue to function in the event of a federal government shutdown.

Additionally, the Council’s FY2013 budget proposal offers a compromise on the proposed extended bar and alcohol sales hours included in the Mayor’s budget proposal, as well as the proposed excise. The compromise extends alcohol sales hours at bars and restaurants for only a handful of weekends and holidays throughout the year. This plan is a balanced approach which provides the necessary revenues while respecting the serious policy concerns that were raised.

Again, thank you for your work on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget and Financial Plan. I believe that we have crafted a plan that truly funds the priorities of our residents.


Kwame R. Brown

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