April 18, 2022
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850
FY23 Operating Budget
Testimony for April 19, 2022
Jane Lyons, Maryland Advocacy Manager
Good evening and thank you. My name is Jane Lyons and I’m speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way to grow and provide opportunities for all. In the FY23 operating budget, we urge you to prioritize transit, affordable housing, climate change, and parks.
Transit: Ride On keeps Montgomery County moving, especially our neighbors with lower incomes, and needs to be a priority if we are to tackle our transportation inequities and reduce our top source of greenhouse gas emissions. We ask you to please:
- Keep Ride On fully funded so that bus service may return to pre-pandemic levels, and plan for future operating funding increases to further expand service.
- Extend Ride On’s fare-free program to October 2023, when the Ride On Reimagined Study will be complete, and the Council can comprehensively review bus investments. 3. Move forward with the Ride On Reimagined Study. We look forward to engaging the Montgomery Better Buses coalition with MCDOT in that process. A local redesign is the best way forward, and will be complemented by WMATA’s upcoming regional redesign.
Affordable housing: Housing affordability is one of Montgomery County’s most protracted and pervasive challenges. We applaud the record funding levels in the County Executive’s recommended budget, including almost $100 million for preservation and production. If we are to meet the Council’s approved housing targets by 2030, the Montgomery Housing Alliance estimates that the county will need to dedicate approximately $122 million to affordable housing production annually. Thus, we support the funding in the proposed budget, but urge you to go further in support of the county’s most vulnerable, many of which make up the core of our economy’s workforce.
Climate, parks, and environment: We urge you to fully fund the budget items that are intended to help the county mitigate and adapt to climate change. This includes the Climate Change Planning Program, improving the health of urban forests, establishing the Community Justice Academic and Community Justice Fund, and the Watershed Restoration Fund. We also ask that you fully fund the Parks Department’s requested budget.
Thank you for your consideration.