Prince George’s Co. aims to view new spending, legislation through equity lens

The Prince George’s County Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that requires the Maryland county to come up with a new equity policy framework, and to begin assessing county spending and new laws for their impact on equity.

Council member Deni Taveras said she modeled the idea after something Montgomery County passed in 2019. During a hearing two weeks ago, she argued that the impact the pandemic had on her district — and how the response was carried out there versus other areas of the D.C. area — crystallized the need for this new resolution now.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was one where my community direly suffered with being in the ZIP code of 20783. We were the most affected in terms of infection rates in the DMV area, yet we were the last to receive vaccines,” Taveras said.

“Despite overcrowding issues, proximities etc., we are the most urbanized area per square mile here in the county,” Taveras said.

The resolution directs council staff to analyze how budget and policy decisions will impact equity, with that information provided to county lawmakers as they determine how to vote. Oversight of programs and processes will also be looked at through an equity lens.

Doing that “will help us be better, be more just, and be more equitable in this new world of diversity, equity and inclusion that we live in,” Taveras said.

Much of that work, for now at least, will fall on current council staff.

“We really look forward to this because this is the kind of thing I think that we were brought here to do,” said Josh Hamlin, a policy analyst for the council, during that Sept. 22 hearing. “We’re definitely looking forward to it.”

In addition, the Budget and Policy Division of the Office of Audits and Investigations will start working on a report looking at disparities that exist in county services — including education, employment, housing and land use.

That report is due just before Christmas in 2023. And from there, county leaders will be tasked with figuring out a way to come up with an equity policy framework that would apply to the entire county.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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