Councilmember Navarro’s Remarks on the FY18 Budget

FY18 Budget Remarks
May 18, 2017

Since the Great Recession, we have had to make tough choices in order to close significant budget gaps. We can agree that the path to fiscal recovery has not been an easy one. Nonetheless, in FY17 we approved a “course-correction” budget that prioritized our school system’s growing needs, a system that has added 20,000 students with great needs since 2007.

For FY18 we have taken a balanced approach, and as Chair of the Government, Operations and Fiscal Policy committee I am proud to report that we have adhered to our adopted fiscal policies and responsible Spending Affordability Guidelines. We were able to fully fund our public employee union’s negotiated agreements.

We have strengthened our safety net by funding, and adding additional staff capacity to programs, and non-profits that help those who need it most. The Council funded over $3 million in community grants, and an additional $8 million for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), including $600,146 to restore the County Executive’s one percent non-profit contracts reduction. We also increased County contracts with eligible nonprofits by 2 percent.

We continue to address the opportunity gap by funding programs that support children and youth, recreation, and expanding accessible, affordable, high quality early care education and after school programs by funding: forty slots in CentroNia, converting to full-time 10 additional Head Start classrooms, investing $2 million in reducing WPA subsidy waitlist for 0-5 year old children, adding funds for the Care for Kids Program and Montgomery Cares, adding two additional sites for Safe Spaces—a positive youth development initiative for vulnerable youth, and increasing quality after school activities at three elementary schools.

This budget also protects our neighborhoods by increasing the number of police officers in targeted areas, such as Wheaton. I proposed and got funding for three additional officers. This Council has always been fully committed to our transportation priorities, which is why we added funding for key transportation services and infrastructure projects along Route 29. I am extremely pleased the Council added $1 million to the Public Election Fund to support clean elections. This brings the total Fund to $11 million as recommended by the Citizens Commission to Recommend Funding for the Public Election Fund. It’s gratifying to know that our program has become a model for other jurisdictions in Maryland.

We continue to support our economic development efforts, as well as our workforce development initiatives. On this note, I led the effort to include $200,000 in initial funds to fund Bill 6-12 SBAP, which will send a strong signal to business owners in Wheaton that the County is prepared to respond. I was proud of the support to add a position to provide additional capacity within the Department of Finance to carry out the duties as specified by this Bill.

Budgets are about tough choices but they are also a reflection of our values and who we are as a society. As a community, we are making investments today that will ensure a brighter future for all of our residents. I want to thank the Council fifth floor staff for their outstanding work ethic and commitment to giving the Council the best analysis available; our outstanding public employees— your service and dedication is what makes this County a great place to live, work and play; our County Executive for sending a responsible budget; Council President Berliner for his steady leadership during this process; and, my colleagues, in particular my GO committee members Katz and Riemer for their diligent work in advancing our priorities.

Finally and most importantly, I want to thank our constituents for their trust, their extensive feedback, and the daily contributions they make to our great County!