42 F
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Home​News"Strategic Investments and Shared Sacrifice": Bowser Presents FY 25 Budget

“Strategic Investments and Shared Sacrifice”: Bowser Presents FY 25 Budget

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) unveiled her FY 25 budget Wednesday morning. Her proposed plans include $21 billion in operating funds and $11.8 billion in capital funds for the District.

The new budget would maintain current priorities and fund new projects including major Capital One Arena renovations, the modernization of public housing units, the implementation of the Secure DC legislation and more.

But there’s also a lot of cuts.

The post COVID “reality that we’re in right now” presents the need for cuts totaling to $500 million in the next fiscal year, Bowser said. On the chopping block, Bowser proposed to cut the Circulator bus system entirely, eliminate the pay equity fund for early childhood education providers and significantly reduces funding for the Housing Protection Trust Fund housing program.

At-large Council member Christina Henderson expressed strong opposition to Bowser’s proposal during the hearing. At one point she seemed close to tears as she voiced objection to the removal of the Pay Equity Fund, which was to bring the pay of daycare workers closer to elementary school teacher. She pointed out that the title of the Mayor’s budget as presented was “Strategic Investments, Shared Sacrifice.”

But, Henderson said, the sacrifices don’t seem fairly distributed. “It feels as though we are proposing to balance this budget on the backs of black and brown women and the childcare sector with the elimination of the early childhood pay our way,” Henderson said.

Other cuts include the DC Circulator, which will be completely eliminated despite once being a talking point of Bowser’s budget when she made rides free in 2021. Funds have also been cuty by $21 million to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

Henderson also took issue to cuts in vehicle enforcement, particularly in booting and towing. “It’s not our only stick, but it’s a big stick that we have,” Henderson said. Outstanding ticket fines were reported to be more than $1 billion last year.

But Bowser argued the cuts were needed, noting these changes alone are not sufficient to close the gap in funding needed. These additional costs will be “shared across the community” from businesses through the Paid Family Leave tax and visitors would pay a “small 911 fee on hotel stays to support increased public safety hiring.”

The budget also proposes to eliminate postions within the District givernment with a focus on “moving forward with programs we know are working.” If gaps remain in the next fiscal year, Bowser plans to introduce a “modest” sales tax increase to help cover metro costs. 

Bowser testified in support of her budget proposal before the DC Council at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). In an effort to “accelerate [the District’s] comeback” and “increase [the District’s] capacity to make big investments in the outyears of our financial plan” Bowser laid out significant proposed changes to the District’s budget.

These investments, Bowser said, are key to the future development and vitality of the city. Her proposal prioritizes funding for public safety, education and the downtown corridor in addition to “maintaining and enhancing” core city government services.

“We must be smart, we must be strategic and we must value each of our investments, whether they are efficient and how it moves us closer to the DC that we want to be five years from now,” Bowser said. “And we must stick together.”

Visit budget.dc.gov to view the Mayor’s full budget presentation and to learn more about proposed plans for FY 25.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.

With additional reporting from Elizabeth O’Gorek

Related Articles