Councilmember’s Corner: 2019 budget wins (education, public safety & more)

Todd celebrating the Stanley Cup win at the parade for the Capitals

by Brandon Todd

On May 29th, Council unanimously passed the second and final vote on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. This $14.5 billion budget is the result of dozens of public forums and hearings, thousands of pages of testimony, and hundreds of hours of thoughtful advocacy from engaged residents. I am proud to affix my signature to this document, which is a reflection of our DC values, as well as the enormous progress we have made and the important work we have left to do as a city. 

From education and recreation, to public safety, to human services, housing, infrastructure, and beyond, this budget makes the strategic investments necessary to build a thriving, safe, and inclusive District.

Ward 4 boasts significant investments in this budget. We continue to fund our schools, protecting modernizations at West ($77.5 million), Coolidge ($74.8 million), Dorothy Height ($67 million), Truesdell ($2.6 million), and Raymond ($62.6 million), and maintaining Whittier and LaSalle Backus on the Capital Improvement Plan.

We invested $50,000 in Ward 4 recreation amenities at Upshur Dog Park, which will soon get resurfaced, as well as improvements to Chevy Chase Community Center ($19 million), a new gym and multi-purpose room at Shepherd Elementary School ($13 million), and construction of the Walter Reed pool ($5.2 million).

District-wide, education also remains a top priority, with $32 million allocated for early child care affordability and out of school time programs, $4 million to implement the Student Fair Access to School Act, as well as $1 million in funding for field trips to artistic and cultural performances and study abroad experiences.

This budget prioritizes transportation infrastructure by investing $430 million for street, sidewalk, and alley repair District-wide and providing $178.5 million for the District's share of a historic regional agreement on dedicated funding for Metro, allowing our transit system to leverage those funds for additional resources.

We fund new public safety initiatives and training, including $1.7 million to expand the police cadet program, $1.7 million for community-based violence interruption grants, and sustained resources for the popular Private Security Camera Incentive Program.

This budget funds innovative health and human services programs such as my Senior Dental Services bill and the increased cigarette tax. Our seniors are supported with $4.5 million in funding to complement expanded eligibility for the Safe at Home Program, as well as $2.2 million for Transport DC and $225,000 for the Isolated Senior Outreach Program.

We provide for over $30 million in dedicated funding for the arts, and $12 million in funds for relief from high water fees.

We direct $8.2 million dollars toward revitalizing neighborhoods with new commercial development through Great Streets Grants and the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund. And of course, the budget funds affordable housing, including $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund and $10 million for the Housing Preservation Fund.

I thank everyone inside and outside the government for your contributions to this budget. I am confident that this collaborative effort has secured the District on a path for continued progress in Fiscal Year 2019 and beyond.  

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