With a city that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic resulting in the loss of approximately $800 million in revenue, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presented to the D.C. Council this week a fiscal year 2021 budget that appears acceptable to most. Once again, thanks to the support of a fiscally-conservative chief financial officer, Bowser’s budget holds back on cuts to programs and services while dredging funds from the city’s reserves and freezing pay for city workers. Both approaches demonstrate several years of responsible financial management of the District’s vast resources and an effort to save jobs that may have otherwise been lost due to budget cuts.
For some, it’s still a hard pill to swallow. This pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities impacting communities particularly in the poorest parts of the District that were hidden in plain sight. Comorbidity among residents who live in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8, are areas with the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and the highest number of deaths, particularly in Ward 8. School shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have heightened a demand on the nonprofit sectors, including churches, while draining their resources and threatening their ability to remain sustainable. Students and teachers are fighting to find success in a new education protocol called distance learning, while too many residents are being impacted by an increase in violence in and outside of their homes.
None of these issues have been missed by Mayor Bowser, who cannot be commended enough for doing what she believes is best and right to save “her” city and her constituents, despite a leader in the White House who continuously demonstrates his belief that D.C. is unworthy.
What Mayor Bowser presented to the Council is a proposed budget of $8.5 billion that members of the council will pick through and help to shape. Hopefully, a consensus will be reached with input by local residents and workers that are given the opportunity to review it and respond to its proposals, as well. In other words, every District resident must play a role in determining how their tax dollars will be spent during and as we recover from COVID-19.