December 20, 2010

DC Council chooses cuts instead of progressive revenue.

The DC City Council votes a second time tomorrow on the city’s revised budget. On the first vote, December 7th, the Council chose the approach of spending cuts instead of progressive revenue. Instead of investing in our city, the Council cut funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), disability services, child care subsidies, affordable housing, mental health services, and other essential programs. While we celebrate the partial restorations that were made -- to Access to Justice, Energy Assistance, HIV/AIDS services, Grandparent Caregiver Subsidy, Adult Job Training, and others -- we are dismayed that the Council didn’t make the bold, smart choice to create new tax brackets.

This video from Empower DC offers a good recap and features Bread for the City client blogger Patty Anne asking Mayor-Elect Vince Gray to not make cuts to the TANF program:

Despite the disappointment of the cuts and ultimate defeat of progressive revenue proposals, five Councilmembers again provided leadership in introducing progressive revenue: Michael Brown (At-Large), Jim Graham (Ward 1), Harry Thomas (Ward 5), Tommy Wells (Ward 6), and Marion Barry (Ward 8). Each supported income tax reform and designated the money that would have been raised to fund safety net programs. Please take a moment to email a thank-you to our Safety Net Superheroes.

Gray’s proposal included even harsher cuts to the TANF program. Just today, advocates learned that the latest proposal is to cut TANF cash assistance for all families by 12% and to implement full family sanctions, a policy change that completely cuts off any household that is not complying with the work requirement.

It’s too late to raise taxes, but it’s not too late to stop this harmful policy change. Please call the At-Large Councilmembers and your Ward Councilmember today or tomorrow morning, and ask them to implement improvements to the TANF program that will get people back to work before removing financial support. Consider saying something like this:

“I am calling to ask _________ to oppose full family sanctions and reducing TANF benefits in the Budget Support Act. I believe the City Council needs to slow down and approach this issue in a thoughtful manner. Rushing TANF reform puts families at risk and does not address the underlying problems preventing families from moving to work. We need time to plan and develop good TANF policies that promote work and protect children.”

Chair Vincent C. Gray,, (202) 724-8032
At-large David Catania,, 724-7772
At-large Michael Brown,, 724-8105
At-large Phil Mendelson,, 724-8064
At-large Kwame R. Brown,, 724-8174
Ward 1 Jim Graham,, 724-8181
Ward 2 Jack Evans,, 724-8058
Ward 3 Mary Cheh,, 724-8062
Ward 4 Muriel Bowser,, 724-8052
Ward 5 Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr.,, 724-8028
Ward 6 Tommy Wells,, 724-8072
Ward 7 Yvette Alexander,, 724-8068
Ward 8 Marion Barry,, 724-8045
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