DC’s budget surplus should be used to rebuild after the pandemic

Francesca Purificato

After a year of cautious spending, the DC government is rolling in an extra $526 million. Considering the circumstances of the pandemic, managing vaccine distribution, strengthening the economy, and preparing schools for next year should be their main priorities. 

The first thing the city should do with the excess money is to help those who are struggling. For example, a bigger relief check not provided by the federal government, for those who can’t go into work or those who run a business that can’t make revenue. Now that the government knows they don’t have to be as circumspect with their budget, they have more wiggle room to be generous with their social welfare support. This could have a big effect on communities in need, and help build the economy back up. It could also keep people in their homes, providing them with the money they need to pay their bills, or rent. 

Another thing the government could do with the money is work on vaccine distribution. Maybe it could partner up with different pharmacies like CVS to make vaccine appointments available in more locations. That way, people who do have an appointment can get there quicker and more easily. This could prevent cancelations and overall get the vaccines in more peoples’ arms.

A big issue in the city right now is schooling. Improvements can be made to DCPS schools to make it safer for students to go back in person. The government should put the money towards making sure schools have good ventilation systems or even little things like making sure each window can open; making space for kids to be separate while in a classroom or maybe even making outdoor learning a possibility. It should better the school system’s ability to have a safe learning environment, whatever adjustments that may take. 

However, amplifying the school buildings isn’t the only part of the education that needs funding. A part of the struggle right now is giving kids resources to do school online. Some students don’t have computers to work on, some students relied on meals at school which they no longer have easy access to. 

It’s things like these that the surplus of money could help, and it’s things like these that the DC government needs to fund with the 526 million dollar surplus in its budget.