Non-profit

DC Fiscal Policy Institute

Website:

www.dcfpi.org

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Executive Director:

Ed Lazere

Not to be confused with Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-of-center public policy advocacy organization focusing on New York State.

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute is a left-of-center research institute and long-time project of the national left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) which advocates for increased budgetary allotments to public housing, education, and entitlements by the Washington, D.C. local government while advocating against spending on development and growth projects, often harboring skepticism in its reports on the impact of such investment projects. [1] As of January 2019, the group was seeking independent non-profit status separate from CBPP. [2]

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute is operated by its executive director, Ed Lazere, a self-styled progressive and “fiscal dove” who actively lobbies the Washington D.C. government, arguing for higher spending in entitlements and less spending on development and pro-growth job creating projects in Washington D.C. [3]

Background

The District of Columbia Control Board was created in 1995 in response to fiscal mismanagement in the District of Columbia Government, which ultimately led to the city accruing a deficit of $722 million and receiving a “junk status” rating for its bond program. [4]

The “Control Board”, as it came to be known, was able to improve the District’s financial status by rejecting costly contracts the city had historically awarded to associates of city officials and lobbying for reductions in the financial responsibilities which the city had to D.C. residents and federal employees, culminating in the Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997. [5]

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute was created in wake of the Control Board being closed in 1998 as a result of the city’s improved financial health. Spearheaded by Ed Lazere, The DC Fiscal Policy Institute is an offshoot of the left-of-center Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which advocates for liberal and expansive state and local fiscal budgets across the country. Lazere has in the past argued that D.C.’s 2020 neutral education funding structure, based on a formula which provides more funding to schools with more students, is “a force which exacerbates racial inequalities” and characterized the budget as a “disinvestment in black communities.” [6]

The DC Fiscal Policy institute is affiliated with the Economic Analysis and Research Network, a collective of close to 60 organizations which provide technical assistance to each other in advocating for expansive tax-and-spend policies throughout the country. The network is operated by the Economic Policy Institute, a research institute funded by labor unions which advocates for left-of-center positions on policy issues including health care, immigration, education, wages, and policy. [7]

Funding

While the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has been operated as part of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (although the organization is undergoing changes to become an independent tax-exempt  legal entity),[8] the DC Fiscal Policy Institute lists a number of people and organizations who contributed to the Institute in 2017. [9]

The organization received substantial grants from liberal foundations, including the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, Moriah Fund, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Consumer Health Foundation. The group reported receiving funding from a number of labor unions including the Washington Teachers Union, Unite Here Local 25, SEIU Local 32BJ, UFCW Local 400, and the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO. The group also reported radical-left activist and Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin as a donor. [10]

Budgetary Positions

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute is active in 10 areas of D.C. budget planning: General Budget, Economic Development, Early and K-12 Education, Healthcare, Housing, Homelessness, Wages, Jobs, Entitlements, and Tax. [11]

In all 10 areas, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has argued for left-of-center positions, often arguing for more public housing and education spending, such as advocating for increased public housing and improvements to existing public housing, some of which are for families living within the public housing assistance program while making $141,000 per year. [12] These efforts are coupled with actively working to reduce spending on development projects which can bring jobs and growth to D.C. [13]

References

  1. Depilis, Lydia. “Fiscal Education” Washington City Paper. June 15, 2011. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blog/13121944/fiscal-education ^
  2. “About – Donate” DC Fiscal Policy Institute. https://www.dcfpi.org/about/support-dcfpi/donate/ ^
  3. Austermuhle, Martin. “In Fight to Lead the D.C. Council, A Battle over Principles and Pragmatism” WAMU 88.5. June 6, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://wamu.org/story/18/06/06/fight-lead-d-c-council-battle-principles-pragmatism/ ^
  4. Bouker, John. Appendix One: The D.C. Revitalization Act: History, Provisions, and Promises. Arent Fox LLP for: DC Appleseed and Our Nation’s Capital. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/appendix-1.pdf ^
  5. Bouker, John. Appendix One: The D.C. Revitalization Act: History, Provisions, and Promises. Arent Fox LLP for: DC Appleseed and Our Nation’s Capital. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/appendix-1.pdf ^
  6. Kaufman, Greg. “DC’s Leaders Shouldn’t Wait to Prioritize Racial Equality” The Nation. May 7, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://www.thenation.com/article/racial-equity-gentrification-washington-dc-budget/ ^
  7. “Areas of Research” Economic Policy Institute. https://www.epi.org/research/ ^
  8. “About – Donate” DC Fiscal Policy Institute. https://www.dcfpi.org/about/support-dcfpi/donate/ ^
  9. “About – Supporters” DC Fiscal Policy Institute. https://www.dcfpi.org/about/support-dcfpi/supporters/ ^
  10. “About – Supporters” DC Fiscal Policy Institute. https://www.dcfpi.org/about/support-dcfpi/supporters/ ^
  11. “Issue Areas” DC Fiscal Policy Institute. https://www.dcfpi.org ^
  12. Jamison, Peter. “Bowser and D.C. Council offer competing visions on affordable-housing crisis” The Washington Post. May 22, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/bowser-and-dc-council-offer-competing-visions-on-affordable-housing-crisis/2019/05/22/08429450-7bd8-11e9-8bb7-0fc796cf2ec0_story.html ^
  13. Lazere, Ed and Scott Schenkelberg. “D.C.’s budget choices are moral choices” The Washington Post. November, 23, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dcs-budget-choices-are-moral-choices/2018/11/23/8ff9794c-ed15-11e8-baac-2a674e91502b_story.html ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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DC Fiscal Policy Institute

1275 First Street, NE Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20002