Viewing entries tagged
budget

Comment

School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act of 1998 to require that the District of Columbia Public Schools submission be based on the cost associated at each school based on projected enrollment and include detailed information for each school’s funding, a separate line-item for at-risk funding for each school, and a narrative description of programs and services funded by at-risk funds; that the DCPS submission delineate cost of the central office attributed listed categories of students in each grade level; that the Public Charter School Board shall publish the detailed budget and end of year expenditures of each public charter school; to amend the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 to require the Boards of Trustees of public charter schools to comply with Title IV of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedures Act; and to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to create an electronic reporting system for the public to ensure the greatest degree of clarity and comparability by laypersons of expenditures among all public schools in the District of Columbia.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Next, along with Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, Evans, Gray, McDuffie, Nadeau, Silverman, Todd, R. White, T. White, I am introducing the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019.

Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for DCPS schools. At the same time, there is less information about funding for public charter schools. The lack of information about public schools in both sectors has raised many questions around school funding cuts and transparency.

The Council and the public have had a number of conversations about the Universal Per Student Funding Formula, At-Risk Funding, and if fund allocations meant to supplement are actually supplanting.

I have long believed that we cannot have a full and meaningful conversation on this topic until we all have similar baseline information. Unfortunately, because of the disjointedness of our education system, and specifically our funding systems, we continue to have these conversations in silos.

Last year, the Committee on Education attempted to start this conversation when it approved a Budget Support Act subtitle to require the Mayor to be more transparent about how the executive formulates DCPS and schools’ budgets. Unfortunately, that language was not included in the final BSA.

This Council Period, we are attempting to start that conversation again because it is clear that the public is clamoring for a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.

The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 attempts to bring about transparency in the following ways:

  • First, it requires DCPS use a school-based budgeting model to fund schools, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, and submit that to DC Council. This would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire. It would also require DCPS to delineate the cost of central office in its budget submission.

  • Next, Public Charter Schools must be more transparent. It would subject charter schools to the DC Open Meetings Act. Additionally, it requires PCSB to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures – currently, only school budgets are published. Also, the legislation makes clear that charters must delineate how at-risk funds are being spent at each school.

  • Finally, the bill requires that OSSE publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by LEA and by school in a clear manner. This gives parents and policymakers clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent.

By no means do I believe this is the panacea to solve all the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I do however believe this is a place to start the conversation and I look forward to having that discussion with all stakeholders.

Comment

Comment

Grosso FY2019 Budget Victories

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, celebrated investments in his budget priorities included in the fiscal year 2019 budget for the District of Columbia, which was given final approval by the D.C. Council on May 29, 2018.

“This budget comes before us during a tumultuous time in the public education sector, but I believe the funding we have approved move us forward in education reform and toward closing the achievement gap,” Grosso said. “It makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.”

The Council’s full budget largely preserves or increases investments approved by the Committee on Education in Grosso’s education priorities and makes investments in other areas of focus for the councilmember:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $3.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates, including an increase to the at-risk weight of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Invests in the mental and physical health of our students: Provides $3 million at the Department of Behavioral Health for school-based clinicians and $4.4 million at the Department of Health for school-based nurses.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Supports students with special education needs: Fully implements the Enhanced Special Education Services Act and includes $350,000 in new funding for teacher training in special education.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1.5 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides four full-time staffers and $300,000 to OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Provides over $20 million for after-school and summer programming for students—more than double the current level of grant-funding for community-based organizations and unthinkable under the former D.C. Trust.
  • Supports early childhood education: Includes a new tax credit for families to offset the high cost of raising a child in D.C. and increased the reimbursement rate for subsidized childcare.
  • Continued investment in early literacy interventions: $1.6 million in continuing investments in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade. 
  • Invests in Fair Elections: Fully funds Grosso's legislation that establishes a strong public financing system for campaigns in D.C., weakening the influence of large donors and corporations in our elections.
  • Fights homelessness and housing insecurity, especially for vulnerable populations: $15.6 million to combat homelessness including $1.6 million to fully fund the Interagency Council on Homelessness Youth Plan in 2019, with $300,000 from the Committee on Education to provide wraparound services at a new 24-hour drop-in center and additional youth beds.

Comment

Comment

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

Washington, D.C. – Under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), the Committee on Education today unanimously passed its recommendations for the District of Columbia FY2019 budget. The Committee’s recommendations require greater transparency from the education sector when formulating its budget. It also makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.

“I share the public’s frustration with the lack of transparency in the development of school budgets,” Grosso said. “The policy changes included in this report will force DCPS and the mayor to explain their math when devising future budgets. With that information, not only can the Committee, the Council, and the public perform greater oversight, but the city can begin to grapple with the true cost of educating our students as it examines additional reforms to our public education system.” 

Policy Recommendations and Legislative Change Highlights:

  • Greater accountability in the formulation of D.C. Public Schools’ budget: Legislative language in the budget requires DCPS to explain the cost that central office attributes to supporting each student, requires the mayor to report how the base of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) is calculated each year before the budget is formulated, and ensures accuracy in enrollment projections for budgetary purposes.
  • Greater transparency in the expenditure of at-risk dollars: By October 1, 2018, D.C. Public Schools must report to the Committee on Education how it will add an accounting line item to central office and school budgets allowing for more detailed tracking of funds intended for students at-risk for academic failure.
  • Study transportation barriers that hinder school attendance: Requires the Deputy Mayor for Education to collaborate with the District Department of Transportation to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for chronically absent students.

“The budget the Committee has passed also creates a positive school environment that values a student’s presence and strives to meet the non-academic needs of our most vulnerable students,” said Grosso. “By addressing these issues, we can begin to close the achievement gap and get students on track to graduate ready for college, career, and life."

Investment Highlights:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $4.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates. This includes:
    • An increase of $450,000 for a total investment of nearly $1 million for Restorative Justice programs, which provide an alternative to outdated discipline methods.
    • An increase in the Universal Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) for students at-risk of academic failure.
    • Establishing the School Safety and Positive Climate Fund to support schools in implementing strategies to reduce suspensions and expulsions and facilitate training and technical assistance in positive behavioral interventions.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides one additional full-time equivalent to the proposed three FTEs and $300,000 for OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Increased investment of $652,000 for OST grants with redirection of defunct tax donation line and transfers from the Committees on Labor & Workforce Development and Business & Economic Development. Total Education investment: $13.6 million.
  • Supports services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness: The Education Committee transferred $300,000 to the Human Services Committee for wrap-around services at the 24-hour drop-in center and for shelter and housing for homeless youth.

###

Comment

Comment

Council Budget Office releases Economic and Policy Impact Statement: Approaches and Strategies for Providing a Minimum Income in the District of Columbia

On Tuesday February 27, 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia's Office of the Budget Director released a report on the feasibility of a public program which would guarantee that every resident has enough resources to meet their basic needs entitled Economic and Policy Impact Statement: Approaches and Strategies for Providing a Minimum Income in the District of Columbia.  This report was prepared at the request of Councilmember David Grosso and Chairman Phil Mendelson and is the second report that the Budget Office has prepared under D.C. Council Rule 308. The first such report was on the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, which is now law.

Four documents are linked below and can be found on the Council’s website:

From the Council's Budget Office:

This report offers the Council an evidence-based resource for weighing this proposal’s policy implications and economic costs and benefits.   The study is divided into three sections:

  1. An analysis of D.C.’s cost of living versus the social safety net benefits available to low-income households.
  2. A discussion of three methods for providing a minimum income: a negative income tax, a guaranteed minimum income, or a universal basic income.
  3. An economic analysis of a minimum income program’s impact on the D.C. economy using REMI, a widely used economic forecasting model.

The report confirms that it is very difficult for low-income households living in the District to make ends meet. The public social safety net provides enough resources for some, but not most, low-income households to meet their basic needs. 

  • The estimated level of income that three, typical households in the District would need to pay for their basic necessities absent government benefit programs is higher than the current minimum hourly wage of $12.50.   The income levels are as follows:
    • Single adult:  Annual income of approximately $36,988 or an hourly wage of $17.78. 
    • Single parent with one child: Annual income of about $66,113 or an hourly wage of $31.79.
    • Single parent with two children: Annual income of roughly $96,885 or an hourly wage of $46.58.
  • A prototypical single, working age adult without a disability whose earned income falls below the Federal Poverty Level would not be able to meet their basic needs even if they received all the public social safety net supports to which they are eligible.
  • The existing social safety net is robust enough to allow a prototypical extremely low-income single parent with one or two children to meet their families’ needs, assuming they can access all the public benefit programs to which they are eligible (including a housing voucher). It is important to note that eligibility for a safety net program does not guarantee receipt of the benefit.  

The study forecasts economic conditions under four possible minimum income scenarios relative to a projection of the conditions if there was no change in policy. The study predicts that a minimum income program would negatively impact economic growth, although the magnitude varies greatly depending upon the program’s design.

  • Raising households’ income to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level is likely to have a relatively small negative impact on the District’s economy and labor force. It would cause the D.C. economy to add 1,600 to 3,000 fewer jobs and increase GDP by $99 million to $185 million less over the next ten years than otherwise projected.
  • Raising households’ income to 450% of the Federal Poverty Level—roughly D.C.’s cost of living—could have major implications for the District’s economy and tax base. It would reduce the number of jobs in D.C. held by residents by 101,000 to 138,000 over ten years. The District would likely forgo about $2.6 billion each year in federal payments and grants. Such a program could increase local expenditures by $7 billion to $9 billion per year, essentially doubling the District’s current local funds budget.

 

Comment

Comment

Grosso sends letter to Mayor Bowser outlining budget priorities for FY2019

Today, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a letter to Mayor Bowser outlining his budget priorities for the Mayor to consider for inclusion in her FY2019 budget proposal.

Ensuring that our students are in the best position to succeed remains Grosso's number one priority as the Chairperson of the Committee on Education.  Fully supporting our students, teachers, and school communities means providing the necessary resources.  For FY2019, Grosso asked the Mayor to:

1.       Meet the non-academic needs of our students through increased investment in the Department of Behavioral Health’s School-Based Mental Health program.

2.      Invest in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade.

3.       Give our teachers the tools to educate all our students by funding school-based special education teacher training.

4.      Support the expansion of vital out-of-school time programs with increased funding for the Office of Out of School Time and Youth Outcomes.

5.      Continue equitable investment in community based organizations who are providing care to at-risk pre-kindergarten children.

6.      Aid child care providers by raising the subsidy reimbursement rates to more closely align with the cost of care.

Additionally, Grosso asked the Mayor to support funding for many of his policy priorities that have become law in the past few years:

1.       Provide financial stability for workers caring for themselves or their family by investing fully in the implementation of the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016.

2.      Assist residents managing their educational financing by funding a separate student loan ombudsman at the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

3.       Support the newly established D.C. State Athletics Commission with funding for two new full-time position.

4.      Provide equitable access to vital identity documents by funding fee exemptions for low-income residents.

5.      Remove the influence of big dollar donors and promote equitable participation in our local elections by fully funding the Fair Elections Amendment Act of 2017

You can read the full letter to Mayor Bowser below.

Comment

Comment

Council approves 2018 budget with Grosso priorities

For Immediate Release: 
June 13, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Council approves 2018 budget with Grosso priorities

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Council of the District of Columbia gave final approval to the budget for fiscal year 2018, which contained top priorities that Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to include.

“The budget approved today invests in education, our children, our neighbors, and the future of the District of Columbia,” Grosso said.

As chairperson of the Committee on Education, Grosso fought for increased investments in education, including per pupil funding, early childhood literacy, and the public library system.

“Ensuring that every child is in the best position to succeed is my top priority on the Council. I’m heartened to see that the other members of the Council share that priority.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the collaborative efforts to double the mayor’s proposed per student funding increase to three percent,” Grosso said.

He also pushed to accelerate the modernizations of D.C.’s aging school buildings in order to provide a quality learning environment for every student. Working with his colleagues, he was able to move up West Education Campus, Jefferson Middle, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, and School Within a School at Goding, among others.

The Council also funded many policies that were enacted through legislation that Councilmember Grosso authored, such as startup funds for the implementation of the universal paid family leave law, investments to provide youth quality out of school time programming, and incentives for first time home buyers.

In addition to the councilmember’s education priorities, he supported and worked with his colleagues to secure funding for other vital programs. Click here to learn more.

###

Comment

Comment

Grosso Budget Victories

Grosso Budget Victories

Education

As chairperson of the Committee on Education, Councilmember Grosso’s number one priority during the budget process was ensuring that our schools have the resources they need to improve learning for all residents across the District of Columbia. 

The Council largely endorsed the work of the Committee on Education that increased per student funding, invested in early childhood learning, and improved the resources of our public libraries, while also accelerating modernizations for many schools to provide a better learning environment.

Highlights of the education budget include:

  • An increase in the uniform per student funding formula of 3.0%, doubling the mayor’s proposed 1.5% increase, with a special thanks to Councilmembers Cheh, Gray, and Chairman Mendelson in particular for making that possible.
  • Investing in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade.
  • Accelerating the modernization of schools, including West Education Campus, Jefferson Middle, Eaton Elementary, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, School Within a School at Goding, and planning for the now-vacant Shaw Middle School.
  • A commitment to alternative approaches to school discipline with an enhancement in the Restorative Justice program funding.
  • Additional investment in the Community Schools program to improve student outcomes.
  • Funding to set up the Office and Commission of Out Of School Time Grants, which was established in legislation introduced by Councilmember Grosso.
  • Enhancing the learning opportunities of all D.C. residents with investment in expanding D.C. Public Libraries’ collections.
  • Preserving local history with ongoing funding for the D.C. Public Libraries’ D.C. Oral History Project, through partnerships with D.C. Historical Society, and Humanities D.C.

In addition to his work on the Education Committee, Councilmember Grosso secured or supported changes to the budget in other areas.

Judiciary and Public Safety

  • Commit D.C. to a new approach to public safety by investing in the NEAR Act which the Council passed unanimously last year.
  •  Funded a grant for organizations working with incarcerated young adults utilizing literacy-based interventions to improve their success while incarcerated and upon transition back to the community.

Health

  • Supported a rate increase for behavioral health providers.
  • Increased funding for in-home delivery programs for D.C. residents living with chronic health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes.

Human Services 

  • Supported Councilmember Nadeau’s changes to strengthen Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for District residents by reducing penalties and eliminating time limits.
  • Supported further investment toward meeting the goals of the Homeward D.C. plan to end homelessness, and implementing the new plan on youth homelessness.
  • Supported additional funding to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) Rapid Housing program to help youth emancipating from and aging out of foster care achieve housing stability.

Housing

  • Supported strong investment for the Housing Preservation Fund to preserve affordable housing units across the city.
  • Supported reducing the waiting list for tenant-based Local Rent Supplement Program vouchers with the allocation of the additional funds.
  • Funding for Grosso’s First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit to lower the barrier to home ownership in the District of Columbia.

Business and Economic Development

  • With monies provided by the Committee on Education, funded a study of the feasibility of establishing a public bank in D.C.
  • Supported the inclusion of a study of certified business enterprises’ capacity to better understand why so many waivers are granted in government-assisted projects.

Labor and Workforce

  • Supported investment for adult transit subsidies for adult learners, removing a barrier to educational attainment for non-traditional students. Grosso appreciates Councilmember Silverman's efforts on this issue.

Committee of the Whole

  • Supported funding to establish the administrative infrastructure for paid family leave, which will provide a competitive advantage to businesses and relieve families of the difficult choice between paying their bills and caring for their loved ones.

Transportation and the Environment

  • Supported allocation of funds to the Department of Health to waive the fee for birth certificates for D.C. residents experiencing homelessness.
  • Working with Councilmembers Evans and Cheh, included language to qualify rooftop farms for tax incentives.

Comment

3 Comments

Stop The Cuts

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the Council of the District of Columbia will consider Mayor Bowser’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. I’ve said many times on the record that this is the worst education budget I’ve seen in my five years on the Council. It’s not only the education portion of the budget, but the entire city budget that needed improvements. The Council has worked together to improve this budget, but there is still more to be done. In particular, I have yet to understand why we are continuing to give tax cuts to the wealthy while we are underfunding education, social services, and the arts and humanities.

Just in the Education budget, the Committee on Education worked to restore cuts to early childhood literacy programs, increased the Universal Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) to 2.38% over last year’s approved budget (the Mayor’s increase was 1.5%), expanded the number of pre-K enhanced slots, and increased the book budget for the D.C. Public Library. You can find out more about the Committee’s work here. However, we still have so much more to do not only in education but throughout the entire government.

This is why I support stopping the estate tax cut, which will only benefit approximately 150 families in the District of Columbia, and cost the District $12 million in annual revenue. I also support a new proposal by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute of stopping the implementation of the business franchise tax reduction for businesses earning $5 million or more in annual revenue. This would save the District approximately $21 million per year that we could put right back into education, social services, and the arts and humanities. We can also use this money to plan for potential federal funding losses due to Trump’s reckless policies and heartless budget proposal.

Let the Council know that the wealthy should not benefit while our education system, social services, and arts and humanities communities suffer. E-mail and call your Councilmembers and let them know that you support stopping the estate tax cut permanently, and only allowing the business franchise tax cut to be implemented for businesses earning under $5 million in annual revenue. This will provide much needed investments across the District of Columbia.

3 Comments

Comment

Mayor Bowser attempts to game Council budgetary process

For Immediate Release: 
May 11, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105 (Grosso), Kelly Whittier, (202) 431-5697 (Cheh)

Mayor Bowser attempts to game Council budgetary process

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Councilmember Mary Cheh, Chairperson of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, released the following joint statement in response to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s errata letter on the education portion of the D.C. Fiscal Year 2018 budget:

“Several weeks ago, after months of planning, Mayor Muriel Bowser submitted to the Council her budget for fiscal year 2018. We, along with parents, teachers, students, administrators, and advocates were very disappointed when we received a budget that leaves our schools without the resources to put every child in the best position to succeed.

“Our committees, like all council committees, have examined agency funding levels, historical spending, and will make a determination as to the appropriate spending for fiscal year 2018.  We found that the mayor drew up her budget and, like many mayors, built in funds to be used at her discretion, beyond effective Council control.

“Today, she sent the Council an errata letter, usually meant to fix minor mistakes in the submitted budget.  However, this letter bears all the hallmarks of an attempt to regain control of those funds. And it irresponsibly claims to have solved the uniform per student funding formula shortfall that the mayor created. In truth, it includes only one-time money.

“Through our oversight of the budget, we have found sources of funds that can be reallocated to provide a more sustainable solution to investing in our students’ futures by providing recurring, not one-time, dollars to increase the uniform per student funding formula over the mayor’s original proposed 1.5 percent.  Recurring dollars represent a real commitment to our students, providing year-to-year funding, rather than having to go through this exercise in the next budget cycle.

“The mayor now attempts to defeat that reallocation by saying ‘Oops – we see some errors and want to correct them.’

“The public is ill-served by the mayor’s political gamesmanship which lacks transparency and is contrary to the system of checks and balances. The mayor proposes, the Council disposes. And that’s exactly what we, working with our colleagues, intend to do, regardless of today’s letter.”

###

Comment

Comment

D.C. in the age of Trump

The first month and a half under President Trump has been dizzying, to put it mildly.  He’s taken actions promising a range of harms to include: withholding federal money from “sanctuary” cities, a travel ban aimed at seven Muslim-majority countries, and even rescinding the student protections based on their gender identity.  In addition to the stress-inducing actions of the president, congressional Republicans are still committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that would have massive implications for millions of Americans.

We are living in incredibly uncertain times, which has given rise to the #resistance movement. Millions have joined marches to protest the disheartening steps taken by the Trump administration and states across the country are developing strategies to protect themselves against potentially sweeping federal policy changes.  Unfortunately, here in the District of Columbia, our circumstances are more precarious. 

Statehood confers certain protections, though those protections are not without limits.  By virtue of having it, states are afforded more avenues through which they can act to thwart ill-conceived federal action.  Similarly, states have at their disposal clear defenses and certain recourse. 

As D.C. is not a state, it begs the question—what can we do to protect ourselves?

The District of Columbia has long been a pawn in the political meddling of Congress.  Congressional leadership has wrongly interfered with the city’s ability to govern itself by attacking the rights of women and families to make their own reproductive health decisions, blocking the city from using local funds to legalize marijuana and, most recently, attempting to block D.C. physicians from prescribing medication to terminally ill residents.  

While most attempts fail, we are faced with an unpredictable executive administration and an emboldened Congress.  The current climate requires us to be more diligent, defiant, and creative.

As the city is currently enjoying a $2.4 billion General Fund Balance and our cash reserves have reached $1.165 billion, we need to be prepared to establish a new, non-lapsing special fund to help us continue to provide services to our residents in the event of something catastrophic, like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The resources to establish a new fund are ample and could be available now

I have stated repeatedly that the time is ripe to reassess our reserves, how they are currently spent and how they should be spent in the future.  Continuing to pursue 60 days of cash on hand may not be the best approach, particularly if we are unwilling to exhaust all of those funds to ensure that our residents have access to needed services in the event of federal changes.

Nevertheless while our cash reserves, the contingency cash reserve in particular, could be used to help residents in need due to “unexpected obligations created by federal law,” any money taken from our reserves must be paid back within 2 years.

Last month, I introduced the Reserve Fund Improvement Amendment Act of 2017, which standardizes the reserve fund calculations to allow the city to meet its reserve requirements this year, freeing up $89.7 million of the reserve funding surplus to be used immediately for other investments. Though legislative amendments would be required, this money is a perfect example of available funding to establish a new fund.

Similarly, the city’s Chief Financial Officer recently revised the local fund revenue forecast upward by $128.1 million in FY17 alone.  Pursuant to recommendations of the Tax Revision Commission, current law requires that all recurring revenue above the prior year’s February forecast be allocated to tax policy changes.  This year, the current law should be amended and the Council should move the additional revenue into a new, non-lapsing fund. Combined with the $89.7M of potential reserve fund surplus, the city should be able to immediately deposit $217.8M into the new non-lapsing fund.

As a city, it is time we stand ready to fight.  We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency.  Though we have yet to see the full scope of what could happen at the federal level, we know with certainty that we have an obligation to our residents.  We need to act decisively and with a sense of urgency to pursue all strategies to ensure that our residents are protected and our coffers are properly resourced.

Comment

Comment

Reserve Fund Improvement Amendment Act of 2017

Reserve Fund Improvement Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: February 7, 2017

Summary: To amend section 47-392.02 of the District of Columbia Official Code to align the locally mandated cash reserve funding formula with the federally mandated cash reserve funding formula.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

The recently released FY16 CAFR report illustrates that the financial health of our city is strong. 

We are enjoying a General Fund balance of $2.4 million and our federally and locally mandated reserves have increased from $985 million to $1.165 billion, amounting to 56 days of cash on hand.

These are extraordinary achievements, and I want to thank the Mayor, the Chairman and the Chief Financial Officer for their hard work to get us to this point. 

While we are in a good financial position, the city is still 4 days shy of achieving our goal of 60 days cash on hand.

Based on testimony received by the Chief Financial Officer during last week’s CAFR Briefing, the District’s emergency, contingency, fiscal stabilization and cash flow reserves are approximately $95M short of being fully funded.

After working closely with the Council Budget Office and analyzing the numbers, I believe this shortfall could be turned into a surplus of millions if the requirements for our federally and locally mandated reserves were calculated using the same expenditure budget assumptions.

That is why today, I am introducing the Reserve Fund Improvement Amendment Act of 2017.

Currently, we use three different methodologies to calculate the federal and local reserve requirements.

Pursuant to the Home Rule Act, the federal reserve mandate (emergency and contingency cash reserve) is calculated using the actual operating expenditure from local funds reported in the CAFR for the fiscal year immediately preceding the current fiscal year, less debt service payments.

The locally mandated fiscal stabilization reserve fund is calculated using the General Fund operating expenditures for each fiscal year and the cash flow reserve fund, also locally mandated, is calculated using the General Fund operating budget for each fiscal year. 

My legislation will align the locally mandated cash reserve funding formula with the federally mandated reserve funding formula. 

I believe standardizing the reserve calculations across all reserve funds would allow the District to meet its reserve requirements this year, and allow a portion of the CAFR surplus to be used for other investments, such as affordable housing and PayGo capital projects. 

Given the uncertainty that pervades as the Trump Administration and a Republican Congress continue to undermine all that we’ve worked to accomplish in the city, hitting the 60 days is more important than ever.

Additionally, once we reach 60 days, 50% of all additional uncommitted amounts in the unrestricted fund balance will be deposited in the Housing Production Trust Fund and 50% will be reserved for PayGo funding, provided that these funds will be used to supplement the existing capital budget for school construction.

If we were to change the method of calculating our locally mandated reserve requirements, both of these funds could receive millions now.

Thank you Chairman Mendelson and I welcome any co-sponsors.

Comment

4 Comments

Thoughts on DCPS FY17 Capital Budget

In 2008, D.C. released a new Master Facilities Plan for DCPS to prioritize renovations of schools, with an emphasis on improvements to the academic learning environments—i.e. classrooms. This was to allow for enhancements to all schools within 5 years, rather than pursuing more capital-intensive full modernizations, which would have required more than a decade to complete. However, over time, priorities shifted. Last year, the Committee on Education was surprised to learn that even after spending over a billion dollars since 2008, 24 schools still had not received any form of renovation.

4 Comments

Comment

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the D.C. Council took its first vote on the "Fiscal Year 2017 Local Budget Act of 2016", "Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Portion Budget Request Act of 2016", and "Fiscal Year Budget Support Act of 2017", which together comprise the fiscal year 2017 budget. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. Grosso made the following statement:

"I am proud of the hard work and collaboration that happened during the budget process on behalf of D.C. residents. My colleagues and I were tasked with balancing the city's many priorities. Through this arduous process, we produced a budget that is fair and puts the needs of the people at the forefront.
 
"Budgets are about choices and unfortunately we could not do everything that we wanted or that was asked of us. Nevertheless, I believe this budget will continue to move us forward and help ensure that we are putting students in the District of Columbia in the best position to learn and succeed. The Committee on Education's budget and policy recommendations that passed a couple of weeks ago were strong, reflecting the needs and issues raised during the performance and budget oversight hearing process, and I am delighted to see that the Committee of the Whole builds upon our efforts. For a second year, the Committee utilized an objective process that evaluated the status of DCPS facilities and ranked them for modernization based on 4,600 data points.
 
"I am especially grateful that my colleagues once again supported the Committee on Education's approach to depoliticize funding of our school modernizations. Our model, based on equity, student demand, community-centered schools, and transparency, prioritizes the schools in greatest of need. 

"Particularly important is inclusion in this budget of funding for the replacement and closing of D.C. General, a goal that I have championed for years. I commend Mayor Bowser for taking on this important and difficult task. While I acknowledge the great deal of work ahead, the changes that the Council made will strengthen the plan, while saving money and ensuring stability. I was glad to help identify capital funding necessary for D.C. to own the new shelters rather than lease them, while working with my colleagues to ensure that Coolidge High School will still complete its full renovation onthe Mayor's schedule."

Grosso's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Victories
Education
Under Grosso's leadership, the Education Committee approved a $3.9 billion budget improving public education, literacy, and career readiness for all District residents, including:

  • $1.8 million to increase the subsidy rate for child care providers;
  • $2.3 million to increase additional capacity for the Strong Start Early Intervention program that provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays;
  • $1.6 million to continue the early literacy grant initiative targeting third grade reading success, which Grosso created in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • $11.9 million in capital funds for data systems infrastructure at OSSE, to improve data collection, transparency and coordination in the education sector;
  • $800,000 to restore the 21st Century Learning Grants at OSSE;
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • $440 million in FY17 for school modernizations and other repairs for D.C. Public Schools;
  • $2.5 million for Show Up Stand Out, ACE, and PASS, programs that support student attendance and divert young people away from the criminal justice system;
  • $700,000 to increase the library collections budget including opening day collections for Palisades, West End, and Capitol View branch libraries;
  • $600,000 to support the success of the Books from Birth program at DC Public Library;
  • $1.2 million to expand the school-based health centers located in 7 schools throughout D.C.; and
  • $650,000 for the Department of Health to continue funding for the teen pregnancy prevention programming and teen peer sexual health educators.

Capital Improvement Plan for DC Public Schools
This year, the Committee on Education continued its objective approach to capital modernizations. The model was refined to include 4,600 data points throughout 10 categories to rank all 112 schools in the DCPS portfolio, and was based on the following principles:

  • Ensure that the Capital Improvement Plan reflects equity focused planning, aligns investments with student demand, upholds the values of community centered schools, and builds facilities to support quality educational programs;
  • Exercise greater discipline in managing the scope and budget for the projects; and
  • Increase transparency in the capital funding process, including delineating general stabilization fund categories such as roof repairs, boiler repairs, ADA compliance, and electrical upgrades to school specific projects.

As a result, the Committee approved a $440 million Capital Improvement Plan for FY17, enhancing the Mayor's plan by $13 million.

Arts
As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector, which includes:

  • $4.6 million to increase Arts Building Communities to provide more grants to more artists and provide larger grants to organizations that currently apply for multiple grants in order to meet their need;
  • $1.45 million to conduct educational activities and outreach to youth and young adults;
  • $30,000 to increase training and employee development of new staff of the Commission on Arts & Humanities; and
  • $20,000 to increase legislative and grants management for the processing of additional grants by the Commission on Arts & Humanities.

Health and Human Services
As a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, and recognizing the impact health and human services has on the success of students at school, Grosso is glad to see important investments in this sector including:

  • Over $100 million in capital funds to build smaller, more humane shelters for families experiencing homelessness, resulting in the closure of D.C. General, fostering more stability, and saving over $165 million in the process;
  • $2 million for additional Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $2.5 million for additional Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $4.9 million for youth development funding that will be issued in FY17 while the government and community create a new strategy to replace the D.C. Trust; and
  • $1.2 million for Produce Plus to support low income individuals eating healthy and fresh food.

To learn more about the Committee on Education's budget and priorities on the Committee on Education, please visit www.davidgrosso.og.
 
 
###

Comment

Comment

Grosso's FY17 Budget Unanimously Passed by Committee on Education

For Immediate Release

May 5, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin  

(202) 724-8105

 

Grosso's FY17 Budget Unanimously Passed by Committee on Education

Washington, D.C. - Today the D.C. Council Committee on Education unanimously passed the budget formulated by Committee Chairperson David Grosso. The $2.3 billion in operating dollars and $1.6 billion in capital budget for the city's public education system includes public schools, public charter schools, and libraries, and next goes to the full Council for a vote. The budget builds upon the Executive's investment in the full modernizations of all schools. The Committee continues its work on an objective approach to capital funding, establishes a strategic communications protocol around environmental safety, including exhaustive water testing, and restores a critical investment in public libraries.

"I've often said that the education of our children does not happen exclusively in our schools. To best serve our children, every part of the government must be engaged in this process," said Grosso.

"This budget supports the full modernization of all DCPS schools with a priority on the schools that are in the greatest of need. Many of our schools have not seen full construction or modernization over the past few decades, while others enjoy second and third iterations of development. These inequities cannot exist if we are committed to each child receiving a quality education regardless of their zip code."

"It is the responsibility of our government to make sure that taxpayer dollars support our students fairly and equitably. Last year I introduced a tool to remove politics from the city's education budget, and this year we were able to improve it with even greater analysis and better data."

The Committee also makes a number of important policy recommendations including a periodic review of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula and the publishing of statewide discipline guidelines and regulations. The Committee's budget also establishes a D. C. Oral History project to ensure that our unique history is properly preserved for generations to come. The budget includes the following enhancements:   

  • $220M new funding for DCPS capital modernizations
  • $22.5M in small capital improvement projects at DCPS
  • $1.8M to increase child care subsidy rates to align rates with licensing ratios
  • $1.6M for early childhood literacy interventions to improve 3rd grade reading outcomes
  • $3.9M for a data warehouse centralizing data from our school system
  • $2M for general library maintenance, as well as $350,000 for general collections
  • $450,000 for life-saving access to epinephrine in schools
  • $200,000 to support college access and college readiness programs
  • $1M for Healthy Tots subsidies for early childhood education centers
  • $727,000 for environmental literacy
  • $400,000 for collections and maintenance for the soon-to-be reopened West End, Capitol View and the Palisades libraries
  • $1.5 M to support the Cleveland Park Library project
  • $600,000 to provide additional funding support for the Books from Birth program
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • Sends $107,871 to the Department of Human Services to increase 1.0 FTE for the PASS program which works with youth and families to improve school attendance and performance and prevent juvenile justice involvement

Comment

Comment

Grosso Applauds Ruling in Favor of Budget Autonomy

For Immediate Release: 
March 18, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

Grosso Applauds Ruling in Favor of Budget Autonomy

Washington, D.C.--Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) issued the following statement on the ruling by D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman in Council of the District of Columbia v. DeWitt:

"This is a great day for the people of the District of Columbia as the judicial system has upheld the legitimacy of our public referendum for budget autonomy. Today's ruling means that the Council and the Mayor can go forward with enacting the people's will by spending local tax dollars according to our own priorities, and without the interference of onerous and ideological riders placed on the federal budget. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and my constituents to push for full legislative autonomy and voting rights for all residents of the District of Columbia."

###

 

 

Comment