Gray committed to making progress on securing pay hikes for city employees, who have been subject to wage freezes, hiring stoppages and furloughs at various points in recent years. Rank-and-file police and firefighters have not seen contractual raises since 2006.
“Tonight, I am proposing that we make this right, by giving raises and reaching new work agreements updated to meet the demands of a 21st-century government and a 21st-century workforce,” Gray said.
He did not discuss dollar figures, but citywide raises could easily add tens of millions of dollars in yearly city spending.
Gray also announced some less costly but politically intriguing initiatives. His coming budget proposal, for instance, will include a $15 million “investment fund” for city nonprofits. The fund would make competitive grants to groups involved in arts, job training, the environment, health and other areas, replacing the D.C. Council’s previous and controversial practice of directly earmarking funds for favored groups.
Later this week, Gray said, he will appoint a task force to examine the regulatory burden on D.C. businesses and propose recommendations on making it easier to start and operate a business in the city.
He also pledged to tackle a long-recognized problem in city government — its procurement system.
Gray has seen multiple high-profile solicitations derailed in the past year by flawed procurements that led to protracted appeals. The city has moved to abandon one of them, for a standardized taxi “smart meter” that would accept credit cards.
The D.C. Taxicab Commission is instead now in the process of requiring cab owners to choose their own system. “By this summer . . .
you will be able to use credit cards in every cab,” he said.
Only the affordable housing announcement won more applause.