News from Mayor Muriel Bowser: Creating DC's Budget in 2017

Muriel Bowser Ward 4

John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Phone: (202) 727-2643

Chief of Staff:
John Falcicchio

City Administrator:
Rashad Young

Director of the Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel:
Mark Tuohey

Senior Advisor:
Beverly Perry
Director of Mayor's Office of Community Affairs:
Charon Hines

Director of Mayor's Office of Community Relations and Services:
Tommie Jones
Scheduling Requests:

February 16, 2017 | Vol. 3, Issue 7

Letter from the Mayor

Dear Washingtonians,

While budget season never truly ends, right now, we are in the midst of one of the most critical and exciting stages - adjusting the budget to most accurately reflect our city's values and priorities. 

We already know that in Washington, DC we value our diversity. We value public education, access to safe and affordable housing and health care, and ensuring that all residents who want to work have the opportunity to work.

Recently, there has been one question on a lot of Washingtonians' minds: How will DC react to any cuts in funding or programming under the new Congress and White House? Without knowing any details, I can’t say with certainty how DC will be affected. What I can tell residents, though, is that we are planning for a number of scenarios so that no matter what happens, we will be prepared to stand up for and protect our DC values.

Every year, we must make tough choices about spending. Dealing with issues like homelessness, education and affordable housing means that no decision is an easy decision. And that is why we need the community to join us in the budget process. The government belongs to the residents of Washington, DC. The values and priorities of DC's residents are the values and priorities of the DC Government. 

The Budget Engagement Forums are one more opportunity for my Administration to hear directly from residents - before we finalize the budget - about how you want to see DC's money spent. The forums are also an opportunity for you to talk to your neighbors about the issues they care most about, and to learn about the experiences of other Washingtonians. 

As we plan for whatever may lie ahead, I encourage you to join us at a forum and ensure that your voice and your values are heard.


Muriel Bowser

ICYMI: The Fair Shot Budget, the fiscal year 2017 (FY2017) budget, was the first budget developed wholly under Budget Autonomy. For the first time since Home Rule was passed in 1973, we were able to spend our local dollars without having to wait on Congress to pass the federal budget. 

In This Week's Newsletter:

Stat of the Week


Download the "Stat of the Week" and share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Register: Budget Engagement Forums

budget forums

Register for a Budget Engagement Forum using the links below.

Thursday, February 23, at 6:30 p.m. at Woodrow Wilson High School (3950 Chesapeake Street, NW)

Saturday, February 25, at 1:00 p.m. at the Department of Employment Services (4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE)

Monday, February 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (3101 16th Street, NW)

Mayor Bowser will also host an Employee Telephone Town Hall on Tuesday, February 21 at 12:00 p.m. so that employees have an opportunity to share their budget ideas. 

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DC Budget FAQ

Is Washington, DC more reliant on the federal government than other American cities?


How is DC’s budget divided up?

DC’s budget is divided up among seven key government clusters: Public Education, Human Support Services, Public Safety and Justice, Financing and Other, Government Direction and Support, Public Works, and Economic Development and Regulation. 

What is the difference between the operating budget and the capital budget?

The operating budget is all spending done by the DC Government agencies for staff, programs, and services. The operating budget funds the government's day-to-day operations. 

The capital budget is largely borrowed funds used for infrastructure projects, such as school modernizations or new recreation centers. The capital budget is like a home mortgage - a loan used to finance a project/ownership. To qualify for the capital budget, the project has to be an asset that the DC Government owns. 

Where does the money in DC’s budget come from?

The local funds comes from several key revenue sources, which are largely made up of property tax (35%), income tax (33%), sales tax (17%), other taxes (5%), gross receipts tax (3%). The remaining funds come from smaller revenue pools like the Lottery (1%) and other non-tax revenues such as fees and fines (6%).  

What is the general timeline for creating the budget?

In November and December, DC Government agencies work with the Mayor's Office and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to build their budgets and submit their initial budget proposals. Then, the Mayor seeks input from the community and develops a proposed budget. In March, the Mayor transmits the budget to the Council. The Council then deliberates the Mayor’s budget proposal and makes any suggested changes or edits before sending it to Congress for approval. 

What does it mean to have budget autonomy? 

Budget autonomy is a good government initiative that enables DC to plan its finances more efficiently. Under budget autonomy, once the Council and the Mayor approve the local budget, it is sent to Congress for a 30-day congressional review. Barring a disapproval resolution, the local budget becomes law on October 1, allowing the District to spend its local funds.

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Highlights from Last Year's Budget

Last year, Mayor Bowser held her second round of Budget Engagement Forums. At all three meetings, residents agreed on what the Administration's top priorities should be: education, jobs, and housing, and the final budget reflected these priorities. 

Highlights from Mayor Bowser's FY2017 Budget:

  • $100 M for affordable housing
  • Additional $75 M for schools and $5.7 M for UDC
  • $1.3 B for school modernizations
  • Additional $13.1 M for homeless services 
  • $3.6 M more for early childcare services
  • $88 M for emergency and temporary family housing
  • $4.5 M for workforce training/Career Connections, $1.9 M for LEAP
  • $4.8 M more for the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program

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DIY: Balance DC's Budget

Many DC residents are already budget planners. Each month, you balance rent or mortgage, family and living expenses, and savings. You know that making decisions about how to allocate and save money is not always easy, and you cannot always fund all the things you wish to buy.

Creating DC's budget is much like creating a personal budget, but on a much larger scale, with more decisions to make and more needs to consider. And the decisions we make when creating DC's budget can impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, so it is critical that we consider our options and fully understand our priorities. 

Try your hand at balancing DC's budget with the DC Budget Challenge.

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Learn the Details:

Last year, Mayor Bowser launched to provide residents with greater insight into DC's budget, increase transparency, and improve accountability at every level of government. offers a deep dive into DC's operational and capital budget, providing details on expenditures currently offered in the annual budget books. The user-friendly portal charts expenditures by year and expense category and allows data to be downloaded, shared on social media, and merged into a range of charts and graphs. The content is clustered into the following categories: Governmental Direction and Support, Economic Development and Regulation, Public Safety and Justice, Public Education System, Human Support Services, Public Works, and Financing and Other. 

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A District Minute

district minute


This week's District Minute features stories about the Mayor's Ward 1 Community Walk, the Hands Off DC Rally, and the Cupid's Kids initiative. 

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