Testimony of Kimberly Perry, Executive Director, before the Committee of the Whole

May 3, 2024
Testimony
Person Testifying: Kimberly Perry
Title: Executive Director, DC Action
Testimony Heard By: Committee of the Whole
Type of Hearing: Budget Hearing

Good morning, Chairman Mendelson and members of the Committee of the Whole. My name is Kimberly Perry and I am the Executive Director of DC Action. 

First, I would like to express my gratitude to you and your Council colleagues who have nearly unanimously denounced Mayor Bowser’s elimination of the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund. Thank you for championing this fund from its inception and committing to fund it through an equitable revenue mechanism. In 2021, the Homes and Hearts Amendment slightly raised income taxes on our highest income earners so that early educators could finally earn compensation and benefits commensurate with their essential skill set, like the rest of our DC educators. This is a budget strategy I like to think of as “shared abundance,” where we create a more vibrant and inclusive ecosystem for everyone living and working in the District. 

By contrast, the Mayor calls this budget, “shared sacrifice.” Why, then, do all the sacrifices seem to be falling on young people and hardworking families doing their best to make ends meet? I know the Council can once again transform this budget into one of shared abundance that makes necessary investments in the long term wellbeing of District children and families, even in these tough times.

My staff will speak to many of these points in further detail but, to highlight our asks, we urge you to create a better budget by: 

  1. Restoring the entire $290 million the Mayor stole from the Pay Equity Fund and reversing the $10 million cut to the child care subsidy program. At a time when the District is aiming to strengthen businesses and get employees back to work in person, child care is critical to achieving that goal. It is the work that makes all other work possible and it is work that deserves fair pay with benefits.

  2. Enforcing and funding the Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act to ensure nonprofit service providers are fully paid for the indirect costs they incur when providing services through District governments grants and contracts. Currently, nonprofits take these agreements at a financial loss because they are mission driven. But year after year of flat funding, no adjustments for inflation, or ability to increase compensation for staff has led to a crisis for local service providers across all the coalitions we work with, but especially in the homelessness services sector. These providers need to see at least a 10% increase in their FY25 grants and contracts.

  3. Increasing out-of-school-time funding to adjust for inflation. We are grateful the Learn 24 OST budget reflects sustained enhancements from ARPA funding levels. But, again, flat funding is insufficient to keep pace, especially as the District works  toward universal access to programs. We know these programs are essential for youth development, and particularly for Black and brown students east of the river where there are limited options and where providers are often least able to turn to private investments to sustain their programs. 
  1. Reversing harmful budget cuts to payments and eligibility criteria for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Baby Bonds program. These programs, along with the creation of a local Child Tax Credit, are some of the most direct investments we can make to reduce child poverty and the extreme racial wealth gap in the District.
  1. Raising new revenue. DC Action supports the tax platform of the Just Recovery DC Coalition to create shared abundance in the budget. By closing loopholes in our tax system which allow wealth and corporate profits to go undertaxed we can generate revenue sufficient to meet the many needs of children and families. Just Recovery’s proposals are progressively structured and do not create undue burdens on those least able to pay, unlike the current sales tax proposal in the Mayor’s budget, which we strongly oppose.  

DC Action is eager to be your partner in passing a better, more abundant budget. Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions.