DC Action Statement Reacting to Chairman Mendelson’s Commitment to Reverse Pay Equity Cuts and Replenish Reserve Through Alternate Funding Sources:

Press Statement
For Immediate Release: April 24th, 2024

As a leader of Under 3 DC, we have spent years fighting to raise wages and provide benefits for early childhood educators across the District, which the Pay Equity Fund has helped us deliver. Earlier this month we strongly condemned Mayor Boswer’s decision to eliminate the Pay Equity Fund and slash funding for child care in her proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget and financial plan. We believe Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Glen Lee was wrong, too, to demand full repayment of the Fiscal Stabilization Reserve; as the Office of the Attorney General confirms, the District is not required to replenish this particular reserve fund through annual appropriations nor does the CFO have the authority to make such a demand. The Mayor and the CFO should never be balancing District budgets or funding reserve balances on the backs of dedicated early childhood educators and working families in general.

Child care is the backbone of our economy, and the dedicated educators who care for the District’s youngest residents – so their parents can pursue their own economic and career goals – are the heart and soul of this sector. By eliminating the Pay Equity Fund and permanently cutting pay and health benefits for more than 4,000 predominantly Black and brown women, Mayor Bowser and the CFO would cause educators to flee the child care sector for higher paying jobs, leaving parents scrambling to make alternate care arrangements or left holding the bill for tuitions that allow providers to continue paying wages these highly-skilled educators deserve. Both outcomes would have negative impacts on the District’s short- and long-term economic recovery as the Mayor pleads workers to return to their offices and for families to plant roots in the District rather than move out to the suburbs. Even before this cut and threat to the sector, existing child care challenges cost District businesses nearly $80 million and families $252 million in lost earnings each year. It was short-sighted, at best, to gut the Pay Equity Fund, and cruel, at worst, to betray the District’s promise to the very women who are the backbone of our economy.

The Chairman and the vast majority of the council should be commended for their persistence in restoring the Fund and ensuring the District continues to be the nation’s leader in innovations in early childhood education. 

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About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.