On Tuesday, the DC Council took the first vote on the FY 2021 budget. In many ways, it was a step in the right direction, but when we stop to consider how much ground children and families, and the educators and workers who care for them, have lost as a result of the pandemic, we must consider this vote as a step forward, not the end point on the road to a fair, equitable, and just recovery.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone, but just like other challenges we face, we know that it has a disparate impact on our communities of color. In addition to the threat to people’s health that the virus poses, our Black and Latinx residents are facing an economic catastrophe. More than half of Black residents and nearly two in five Latinx residents have experienced a loss of employment income, compared to just over one in five white residents. When families are thrust into these circumstances, we know that children and youth often pay the biggest price.
The good news is that, so far, the majority of our budget priorities have been held harmless and in some areas, like health, have been slightly increased due to more federal funding.
The tough news is that early care and education is still underfunded. But, thanks to the hard work of advocates like you, and champions on the DC Council, we made some progress!
The Council was able to authorize up to $5M in FY20 for child care stabilization, thanks to CMs Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) and Charles Allen (Ward 6) for including child care businesses in the Business Support Grants Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 and thanks to the rest of the Council for voting for it unanimously.
And, thanks to the leadership of CMs Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Vincent Gray (Ward 7), and Chairman Phil Mendelson $6.4 million more was allocated for FY21 investments in early childhood education. The Council was able to fund child care and more critical needs for families by delaying corporate tax cuts, increasing the Estate Tax, reforming the High Tech Tax Credit, and revisiting our schools’ contract with the Metropolitan Police Department.
We're half way there! Remember our early education goals were an additional $10 million this year, and an additional $10 million next year. Please call your DC Council members to thank them for the progress made so far, but let them know, we're not done yet! The second vote on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21st.