The Council is now in what we call “budget season,” when we spend several weeks reviewing the Mayor’s budget proposal, holding budget hearings on all local agencies, and developing committee budget recommendations and reports. As a new committee chair, this budget cycle is different than my last two, so I am spending an incredible amount of time wading through the performance and needs of the agencies within my committee’s jurisdiction to make sure they can meet the needs of our residents.
I’m excited that Mayor Bowser proposed funding my Performing Arts Promotion Amendment Act, which was a major win for the arts in the District. Inspired by the decline of live jazz venues in DC, I wrote this bill with the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation as an opportunity to support both local artists and local small businesses.
I asked the Mayor to make several critical investments in housing, school technology, mental health services, and additional services for returning citizens. I was happy to see some investments in those needs. However, I am concerned that the investments are too modest to bring about the change we need, and I am incredibly concerned about underinvestment in schools and in violence prevention programs, so I am fighting for more funding.
The economic forecast for the city has recently started to change. After several years of huge financial gains, it looks like our economy is beginning to slow down. That means we must be smart about the financial choices we make. I have been attending budget oversight hearings for the committees on which I sit, and I am chairing four hearings for the Committee on Procurement and Facilities. At each hearing, my goal is to ensure that we’re investing your tax dollars appropriately and effectively.
I encourage you to testify at one of the remaining Committee on Procurement and Facilities budget hearings. The dates are below.
· April 3rd – Contract Appeals Board at 10:00 A.M. (Room 123)
· April 4th – Department of General Services at 10:00 A.M. (Room 500)
I’m also continuing my outreach efforts to reach senior citizens across the District at their homes and wellness centers. This month, my office worked with Howard University and Howard University Hospital to organize an on-site health fair, including dental, blood glucose, and kidney screenings for residents of Seabury at Friendship Terrace Senior Living.
This month, the Council voted to confirm Dr. Lewis Ferebee as DCPS Chancellor. I met with Dr. Ferebee before the final vote to discuss my concerns with his nomination. I worried that he wouldn’t be willing to shake things up at DCPS. So, I asked Dr. Ferebee if he would commit to conducting a full review of DCPS teacher retention, including assessing the IMPACT teacher evaluation system fairness. He agreed. That gave me faith that he is willing to take on the status quo, and enough confidence to earn my vote for his confirmation. I wish Dr. Ferebee absolute success leading our DC Public Schools. Of couse, I will continue to do my oversight.