Mayor Fenty, Council Chairman Gray and CFO Gandhi are on Capitol Hill this afternoon to testify on the President's federal budget request for the District. As the Post reported in February, Bush has added an additional amount to support the reform efforts of Fenty and school Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. Our story cited an increase of $32 million in federal education funds, but Fenty's testimony for today's hearing says $38 million.
Fenty's prepared remarks for the hearing are after the jump.
Fenty's prepared remarks:
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Regula and distinguished subcommittee members, it is my pleasure to be here today to speak to you about my proposed Fiscal Year 2009 Budget, entitled "Getting the Job Done."
I have provided written testimony that describes our local and federal funding priorities in more detail. In the interest of brevity, I will offer some highlights here today.
Our budget represents $5.7 billion in local funds and about $3.7 billion in federal grants for Medicaid, education, transportation and other initiatives. This is our 13th consecutive balanced budget - and limits the growth of local funds to less than 1% at a time when the national economy calls for fiscal restraint.
More than ever, my Administration will economize the way the District Government works. Typically, the starting point for a proposed budget is the previous year's funding level for services plus increases for salaries, fixed costs and financing. This alone would have reflected a 5.7% growth. But, by building our budget from the ground up, scrubbing out every unnecessary position, and finding ways to serve our citizens more efficiently across the government, our FY 2009 budget limits local funds growth to less than 1%.
At the same time, we continue to propose tax relief for low-income residents and small businesses. For example, this year's budget proposal includes changes to the District's Earned Income Tax Credit, which would effectively eliminate income taxes for families making $25,000 a year or less.
No single priority of this government is more important than education. I am extremely grateful for this subcommittee's work with me to make radical improvements in our public schools. I particularly want to acknowledge you, Mr. Chairman, and also Ranking Member Regula, for your interest and support. I know you are aware of the dramatic changes Chancellor Michelle Rhee has already made in our schools since June 12, 2007.
Today, I am asking for your support for $38 million in federal funds that are part of the President's budget request, to further our reform efforts.
In addition to the education funding I just discussed, this subcommittee has made many investments in other key programs in the past.
At our request, the President's FY09 budget contains funding in FY09 for several of these same items: a reimbursement for emergency planning and security costs; continued support for our new, local forensic evidence laboratory; more funds to renovate public libraries; and improvements to our combined sewer system to help protect the Potomac and Anacostia rivers from pollution. I hope you will continue to support these important projects and I am happy to discuss any of them further with you.
As the District's mayor and as a lifelong resident of this great city, I view members of Congress as critical partners in my work for effort to improve the lives of District residents and the experience of District visitors. I look forward to our continued work toward our mutual goal - of making Washington a capital city without equal anywhere in the world.
This concludes my prepared remarks, and I'm happy to answer any questions.