Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Progress Amidst Uncertainty - A recap of DCFPI's event

Yesterday, DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted an event, co-sponsored by a number of local organizations, including DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. The event was called, "Progress Amidst Uncertainty: Making the Most of DC's 2018 Budget". Our entire team was in attendance, at the True Reformer Building.
Beverly Wheeler was our Emcee for the morning. Ms. Wheeler is the Director of DC Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the Nation's Capital.

And what a wonderful Emcee for the morning! She introduced us to our Keynote speaker, Jared Bernstein. In addition to being a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Mr. Bernstein was formerly the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden.
Mr .Bernstein's keynote provided a federal lens as it relates to the national landscape, for the rest of the speakers and panelists. DCFPI's own Executive Director, Ed Lazere.
Mr. Lazere provided a comprehensive overview regarding the fiscal health of the District as well as how it disproportionately translates to the economic well-being of different communities. Some facts to put that in perspective included sharing that:
  • 1 in 5 children in DC are in extremely low-income households paying more than half their income in rent
  • Over the past decade, the average income of DC's extremely low-income households rose 0%, while the median rent in DC rose 35%
And with that in mind, Mr. Lazere made a case for a more nimble and responsive local budgeting process that necessitates postponing several automatic tax cut triggers.
The final portion of our program was a panel moderated by Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of Children's Law Center. The panelists were:
  • Angela Hodges, DC Resident
  • Lecester Johnson, CEO, Academy of Hope Public Charter School
  • George Jones, CEO, Bread for the City
  • Keyla Rylan, DC Resident
They had a wonderful conversation provided a perspective of social service need and impact, from both providers' points of view as well as the direct experience from individuals who've used such services, from housing to job placement, assistance with education to medical, and more. One particular point made by Mr. Jones is one that is constantly top of mind in our own work:
Along with the remainder of the panel discussion, this left us reinvigorated for the work we have to do, which at the end of the day, is in line with the work we've always done in terms of advocacy for funding, legislation, and policy that allow youth in all 8 words the choices and opportunities to not just survive, but thrive. And we invite you to join us, a coalition of dedicated organizations and passionate individuals, and ask DC Council to untie our hands when it comes to the FY 2018 budget.

You can see more tweets from yesterday in this Storify. And find out more at DCFPI's blog about three specific steps that will help us make the most out of the FY 2018 Budget: It’s Time to Stop Budgeting with Our Hands Tied.

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