Text of Mayor Gray's 2012 'State of the District' Address

2/8/2012, 5:36 p.m.

Speech Calls on District Residents to 'Seize the Future'

Good evening, friends and colleagues, Reverend Nutall, Rabbi Stutman, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin by thanking my good friend, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, as well as members of the Council of the District of Columbia, the judiciary, ANC commissioners and civic, corporate and community leaders from across our great city.

It's a great honor to have you here this evening. I would also like to thank Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Congressman Trey Gowdy for being here tonight. I appreciate working with congressman Gowdy as chair of the House Subcommittee on the District of Columbia.

I was delighted that when he became chairman last year, he took the time to come and visit with us at the Wilson Building to begin what has been a productive relationship. And, I want to thank the good people of the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue who have provided us this wonderful venue.

As Reverend Nutall reminded us, this special place connects our past, our present, and our future. But most of all, I want to thank you the citizens of the District of Columbia for being here tonight and for being so committed to the civic life of this great city.

As we gather here this evening, we are all well aware that today the District of Columbia is blessed with tremendous progress. And because of that I am proud to share that the state of the District is strong and getting stronger. In so many ways we are a city of firsts. We are the #1 retail market in the country, the #1 place for young professionals to move, #1 in foreign real-estate investment, #1 for the number of fast-growing private companies, #1 in metro household income, and #1 for quality of living in the Mid-Atlantic region. And one day, once again, we will be #1 in the National Football League. Our economy is growing and indeed is one of the strongest of any city in the country.

The financial health of our city continues to improve, and just recently we announced that we ended 2011 with one of the largest budget surpluses in our history -- $240 million. The fact is, we have made great strides over the last year engineering a major financial turnaround and stabilizing our fiscal house. For the first time in years, the District is not spending from our critical reserve fund, which had been depleted by 700 million dollars over the prior four years. Indeed, we are replenishing that fund - often called our "rainy-day" fund - which now stands at $1.1 billion.

The District has also seen a turnaround on jobs. In the last year we added 9,500 jobs. And looking off into the future, we project that by 2015 we will add another 45,000 new jobs to our local economy. But the problem is that while all of this economic growth is good for the city, some of our fellow Washingtonians have not yet benefited from the economic turnaround. They still struggle to find a job, put food on the table, and pay the rent. While economic growth is a priority, we must remain committed to getting our unemployed citizens back to work.