Remarks on the First Reading of the FY 2025 Budget

Councilmember Nadeau speaks from the dais in the Council chamber during the first reading on the FY 25 budget

Thank you, Chairman. When we compare this budget to what it looked like in April, we are in a remarkably better place.  

The budget proposal sent to us by the Mayor in March shirked responsibility, opting to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable residents, and to eliminate services that are key to how we live in the District.  

We have an obligation as a government to do more than simply reconcile our accounts and produce a balanced budget. We are obligated to take care of our neighbors, to keep our city safe, to enhance our quality of life. To serve people and meet their needs. 

We have heard time and again that this is a tough year. But we can, in fact, do hard things. We can, and did, rise to the challenge, meeting a substantial budget gap by finding ways to generate revenue to support essential programs for our residents. 

Yes, this was a difficult year. And we were handed a difficult budget.  

The budget before us today does more to support the rights, health, and wellbeing of residents, more to protect vulnerable people, including children, more to support livelihoods, and more to keep the District a clean, safe, and livable city.  

The budget office and all of our staff deserve an immense amount of credit and congratulations for what we’ve been able to accomplish here. 

And you, Chairman, also deserve thanks, for preserving the vast majority of proposals in the various committee reports; for re-instating critical programs, such as pay for early childhood educators; and for finding ways to generate much-needed revenue to support all of these critical programs. 

Work Still to be Done

But there is more work to be done between now and the final vote, and over the next year. 

Here are some of the things I am focused on over the next two weeks: 

Rapid Rehousing/Vouchers/ERAP. We’ve been successful at ending homelessness for thousands of our neighbors through major investments in permanent housing, emergency rental assistance, and rapid rehousing. If this funding pipeline is decreased in the FY25 budget, we will not be able to keep that forward progress.  

While this budget marks a big improvement in funding for housing programs compared to the destabilizing choices the Mayor made, it still does not match the FY24 funding level for ERAP. And we need more investment in programs that end chronic homelessness, including housing vouchers for people who are unhoused or on the verge of homelessness. 

Pay Equity. The Pay Equity Fund is essential: it has raised wages for thousands of hard-working early childhood educators, many of whom are Black and Brown women. We must keep our promises to the District’s educators, parents, and children and protect this program in our FY25 budget. The Council’s budget represents an improvement, but we are still $17 million short of the full amount needed to prevent cuts in salary and benefits for childcare teachers.  

SNAP. This budget does not include any new funding for food or nutrition programs, outside of our schools. SNAP is a critical lifeline for many people, especially our seniors. Temporary pandemic increases to SNAP have now stopped. We need to make sure seniors can continue to live in our city, and with one of the highest rates of senior hunger in the country, that means we need to increase SNAP benefits. 

Flexible Scheduling. If we want our students to succeed, we need to prioritize student and educator wellness. The Flexible Scheduling Pilot Program aims to improve the latter, while also increasing retention rates. It is one way we can work toward the stable, secure, and productive school environment all DC students deserve. 

Budget Highlights

While there’s work to do, there’s also so much good that’s already been done in this budget: 

  • I am thrilled to see funding for my legislation, the Home Visiting Reimbursement Amendment Act, which will expand access to these evidence-based programs for expectant parents. I thank Councilmember Henderson for her partnership on this and I’m so glad that I could transfer funding to support this legislation as well as funding for the Nurse Family Partnership. 
  • I transferred funds to preserve the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children, which I created through legislation in 2021. This small office has a significant impact on the lives of children, especially those simultaneously involved in foster care and the juvenile justice system. I truly hope this is the last time we need to have a back-and-forth with the executive about this. 
  • The budget also includes a police budget increase of $70 million that fully funds the chief’s request for additional officers – more than 200 recruits, 40 cadets, and 20 senior law enforcement officers. A net gain in officers for the first time in five years. It also adds civilian positions to free officers up for crime-fighting. 
  • This budget includes funds I made available for new mobile police cameras in the 3rd and 4th police districts to contribute to neighborhood safety. And I contributed funds to support positions in the city’s crime lab help solve cases. 

Finally, in my committee – the Committee on Public Works and Operations, we restored and added positions and funding to: 

  • Improve the timeliness of cases at OAH that have serious implications for residents’ livelihoods, such as cases involving SNAP benefits and unemployment insurance; 
  • Add more open movie captioning to give more access to the deaf, hard of hearing, and late-deafened community; 
  • Create a new position at the Office of Contracting and Procurement to give the Council greater visibility into issues in that office; and, 
  • Extend the standalone public restroom pilot to ensure public restrooms for anyone who needs them. 

I also want to highlight the LGBTQ Affairs Budget Transparency Amendment Act we added to the BSA, which aims to improve the structure and transparency of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. It requires future directors to be approved by the Council, aligns their compensation with the Executive Service schedule, sets specific grant administration requirements, and clarifies the Office’s role in coordinating grants for WorldPride. 

Revenue Raisers

Balancing a $21 billion budget requires making cuts one place to add in another, and considering all revenue sources. Earlier, I said that we can do hard things.  

In fact, we have an obligation to do so. 

I would have loved to now be considering tax adjustments proposed by the TRC. That was their job, but they failed to deliver on time and it’s unclear what the future of comprehensive tax revision will be. This shifts responsibility to the Council, for now, at least, to take on the job they had – to set the District on the path to a more stable, sustainable, and ethical tax code. I am pleased that we have been able to take important steps with this budget, and that the Chairman has joined in this effort. We have wisely chosen tax adjustments that were vetted and scored by the TRC. Their work has had value and has given us greater confidence in our actions.  

Specifically, I strongly support the Chairman’s property tax increase on homes with assessed values over $2.5 million, in a way that does not negatively impact multifamily properties. I was proud to be part of this change and thank the Chairman for working with me and other councilmembers to make this happen. 

I have long believed that the District’s wealthiest residents should be asked to do the most for those in need and an increased tax on the highest value homes is much needed.  

Land is the only wealth that can’t move, and the District’s property taxes are currently the lowest in the region by a wide margin – that will remain true even with this proposal. 

For the first time, we are adding progressivity to the property tax, which currently disproportionally burdens lower-income residents.  

This budget’s tax changes are necessary and good and put us on the right path. What should come next is fleshing out a fuller vision of revising the tax code –led by the commission we appointed to do so. 

I want to express concern about the expansion of sports gambling as a way of recognizing revenue. I was one of the few Councilmembers who did not support legalizing sports betting, and I stand by that decision. I recognize that the contract had a lot of problems, but opening up the market is only going to escalate the growing public health crisis that the explosion in sports betting has created nationally. No matter how much funding is set aside to address problem gambling, I think we’re hurting more people than any of that revenue will ever help, and I don’t know that this is something the District will look back on and be proud of. 

Thank you, Chairman. I look forward to supporting the Fiscal Year 2025 Local Budget Act.


“The Council has gone through yet another budget process while the commission has sat on its hands.”
Yes, this was a difficult year. And we were handed a difficult budget. I’m proud of the work this Council has done to make an unpalatable budget better.

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