Montgomery County Council Public Hearing – FY20 Operating Budget
April 9, 2019, 7:00 pm
JUFJ Priorities for FY20 Operating Budget:
- 3% increase for nonprofit contracts across all County departments
- Fully fund $7 million for the County’s Early Care and Education Initiative
My name is Marilyn Kresky-Wolff and today I am representing Jews United for Justice (JUFJ). JUFJ represents over 2,000 Jews from across Montgomery County, who act on our shared Jewish values by pursuing social and economic justice and racial equity in our local communities.
I have just retired as Executive Director of Open Arms Housing in D.C., after a long career of program direction and advocacy in Baltimore, Montgomery County, and the District of Columbia. It has been over 13 years since I have testified here, since leaving Everymind, which in my day was called the Mental Health Association, where I directed Homeless Services.
The Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, meaning Repairing the World, teaches us that the best way to enable those less fortunate in society is to give them tools for self-sufficiency. As the philosopher Maimonides said: The greatest way to support a person is: “by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand so that he will not need to be dependent upon others . . .”
JUFJ’s priorities for the county’s Operating Budget mirror this theme in two ways. First, to assist non-profits that provide a safety net of services for the most vulnerable: the hungry, the homeless, those with disabilities, and those who are the youngest and the oldest, we support a 3% increase in the budget, so that agencies have the resources they need to function at what they do best—assisting and empowering the needy to be self-sufficient.
Second, we support County Executive Elrich and Council President Navarro’s proposed $7 million increase in funding for early-childhood education for this year and each of the next 3 years, to reach a total of $30 million in new spending. One of the most important lessons from serving people in poverty is that they yearn to learn and to work. Many, in their early years lacked the basics. Let’s support getting Montgomery County kids off to a good start so that in the future, they will be equipped with skills that lead to self-sufficiency.