For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015
Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun
D.C. Budget Passes with All of Grosso’s Priorities
Washington, D.C. –- Today, the D.C. Council voted on the bills that comprise the D.C. fiscal year 2016 budget–-the “Budget Request Act of 2015” and the “Budget Support Act of 2015.” Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget.
“This particular budget and vote is significant as it is my first while chairing the Committee on Education. For this Council period, education and housing were designated as the Council’s two top priorities. I am pleased that a comprehensive budget to benefit District of Columbia residents was developed in the areas of education, workforce development, transportation, and health and human services, with historic investments for a strategic pathway to end homelessness,” said Grosso.
Grosso’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Victories
Under Grosso’s leadership, the Education Committee approved a $2.4 billion budget that reversed proposed cuts to the library system, supported modernization of the Martin Luther King, Jr. central library, and brought a new, objective approach to determining capital funding for D.C. Public Schools, based on equity and data, not politics. In the coming months, the Committee will hold town hall meetings in every ward to share the analytical framework for determining school modernization priorities. Grosso allocated $1.6 million for a new literacy intervention program, targeted at 3rd grade reading success. Equipping these young students with the basic building blocks of learning—reading and writing—will ensure that they are on track to succeed throughout their academic careers. Grosso transferred $760,000 to the Committee of the Whole to restore funding to the University of the District of Columbia that the Mayor had proposed to cut. Grosso also allocated almost $700,000 to DCPS to make up for funding losses at schools such as Wilson and Ballou High Schools, and $450,000 to restore funding for SAT and ACT test preparation courses for D.C. high school students. Grosso included language in the Budget Support Act that broadens the scope of the Bullying Prevention Taskforce and extends its term until August 2018. Grosso also allocated $266,000 to expand the Community Schools program, which supports students and their families by providing wrap-around services. New language in the Budget Support Act also strengthens the program and expands the pool of potential applicants to include middle schools. Meeting the needs of these students and their families in a comprehensive way is part of Grosso’s vision to put every student in the best position to learn and achieve.
As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector. To that end, Grosso identified and transferred $200,000 to the Committee of the Whole to fund a comprehensive, citywide cultural plan. This plan, housed in the Office of Planning, will enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide.
Food Security & Recreation
Grosso believes a sustainable food system encourages local food production and distribution that makes nutritious food accessible and affordable to all D.C. residents. For this reason, he introduced the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014, which became official law on April 30, 2015. Grosso worked closely with the Committee of the Whole to ensure that the intent of the legislation was preserved and funded to move urban agriculture efforts forward in the city. The funding allocated for the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act enables residents using their property for urban agriculture purposes to take advantage of a 90% tax abatement program. Additionally, the legislation enables those tax exempt entities that allow farmers to grow and sell produce on their property to maintain their tax exempt status.
An additional program that has proven its value and has Grosso’s support is the Produce Plus Program, which is a farmers market incentive program designed to increase access to healthy and nutritious food options for low-income D.C. residents. The final budget includes $350,000 for this program to ensure that all our residents can afford to eat healthy.
Health & Human Services
As a strong supporter of reproductive and sexual health and rights, Grosso has worked to support programs such as peer-led sex education in schools and in this budget allocated $300,000 to the Committee on Health and Human Services for teen pregnancy prevention programs. This funding will help fill the gap left by the end of activities of a private foundation that supported such programs locally.
Throughout the budget process, Grosso has also been a vocal proponent of stepping up to the plate to end homelessness in D.C. He is very pleased that the Council’s approved budget builds on the Mayor’s proposed increases in homelessness and human services in line with the strategic plan developed by stakeholders.