Yesterday we joined advocates and community members in a packed Council Chamber to witness the final vote that passed the FY2013 budget. We’ll have more details coming soon, but we just wanted to offer an initial report that ALL FOUR of the items we were pushing in our most recent email action were included in the budget!! Three of the four were put into the budget ahead of the vote today.
The fourth item we wanted, a one-year delay before cuts to TANF families are implemented, was introduced in an amendment from Jim Graham. It spurred a heated debate on the dais. We had a shaky 8 votes in support and it seemed like we might lose a couple over the course of the debate. But as more Councilmembers weighed in and spoke powerfully about how the government has failed TANF families and shouldn’t punish the families for that failure, sentiments seemed to turn. Jack Evans and Vincent Orange were among those who spoke the most passionately in support of Graham’s amendment. (You should have seen the wide eyes and dangling mouths of the advocates in the room when Evans really got going.) Flurries of text messages flew towards the dais as advocates began a minor social media blitz at certain Councilmembers. Kwame Brown began against and changed his mind. Tommy Wells didn’t like it either and tried to offer a weaker compromise which he backed down from.The final vote was 10-3 in support of delaying the cuts. Only Alexander, Mendelson and Catania voted against it. A resounding victory for TANF families who would have faced major cuts in October.
Additionally, the Wish List remained largely untouched. The $7M for homeless services is still the #1 priority on the list, making it likely that it will get funded. And the money to follow through with the injured worker policy change was added to the list.
A HUGE congrats to DCFPI, Washington Legal Clinic, CNHED, DCCADV, and to all of you. Everyone who has done walkarounds and participated in calling or emailing Council in the past few weeks should feel responsible for successfully delaying the TANF cuts, for winning exemptions from the cuts for some TANF families, for funding the project-based local rent supplement program by an additional $2M, and for implementing a policy shift to protect injured workers. It’s hard to believe we got it all.
Of course, there are critical things that remain desperately underfunded. Childcare, Interim Disability Assistance, adult literacy… We are grounded in the realities of the work that still needs to be done though we are happy to celebrate what we have accomplished this year.
We’ll send a broader rundown soon of all that we won this budget season.
In the meantime, Congratulations!