D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presented Monday her fiscal 2021 budget proposal that, while ravaged by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, would not result in any layoffs or furloughs for city government employees or new taxes.
However, the $16.7 billion budget Bowser proposed to the D.C. Council calls for widespread freezes on salaries and hiring, as well as significant adjustments to some government programs.
The mayor acknowledged the across-the-board sacrifices her proposal requires, saying “everyone will need to give something.”
“While this is not the budget we expected to share earlier this year, it is still a budget that I am proud of and that our city can be proud of,” she said. “Under the most difficult of circumstances, we crafted a balanced budget that reflects our shared values and priorities, makes significant investments in our residents and sets the District up for an efficient recovery. I look forward to working with the Council to ensure we invest in health, opportunity, prosperity and equity for the District.”
Highlights of the budget include extending the streetcar from Union Station on H Street NE to Benning Road NE; $37.2 million for new Parklands-Turner and Chevy Chase library buildings; $80.2 million to open a new Bard High School Early College at the Malcolm X Opportunity Center in Southeast and the D.C. Infrastructure Academy being relocated to the shuttered Spingarn High School site in Northeast.
The council will question the mayor and her budget team about the city’s financial operating plan on May 19, then will take a month to review and make adjustments to the budget, said council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
Mendelson characterized Bowser’s budget proposal as “good.”
“There is going to be a lot of pain when the details are fleshed out and there will be agencies that will be trimmed,” he said. “The proposed budget does solve the problem of having a balanced budget which is mandated by law.”