City Desk

The D.C. Council Passes a New 2010 Budget

We know Loose Lips wishes he were here, and not on his way to the beach, so he could report: The D.C. Council has passed its new, leaner budget!

Instead, we bring you the news care of the Washington Post's Tim Craig, who writes:

The D.C. Council unanimously agreed Friday to slash spending and raise sales, gas and cigarette taxes to close a $666 million budget shortfall over the next three years.

Council members said the tax increases and spending cuts were needed to bolster the District's finances because of the recession that has strapped cities and states across the country.

No surprises on the tax hikes, if you've been following the week's final budget-gap-closing deliberations: The sales tax, beginning in October, will bump up from 5.75 percent to 6 percent. The cigarette tax will go up 50 cents, to $2.50 a pack. And the gas tax, now 20 cents a gallon, will rise by 3.5 cents. Those steps are expected to raise $50 million.

As for spending cuts, totaling $100 million:

The council proposed a $30 million reduction in spending on schools, including a 50 percent reduction in summer school slots next year.

The council also agreed to curtail hiring police officers, eliminate hundreds of positions and scale back the Summer Youth Employment Program from 10 weeks to six weeks.

Members also agreed to eliminate earmarks for arts and social service organizations. In addition to saving money, [Chairman Vincent C.] Gray is trying to respond to the controversy over council member Marion Barry's (D-Ward 8) use of the earmark process to divert money to several organizations in Ward 8.

The revised budget will now go to the mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, who had wanted to use the city's rainy-day fund to close the hole – through October 2010 – rather than raise taxes. He indicated today on WAMU-FM he probably would support the new version, saying the tax increases are "obviously not draconian."

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  • Q™

    Good for you LL-Niedowski! All the cuts I understand but trying to makeup the shortfall in 3 years seems silly. Are they not forcasting greater spending in other areas? The DC Gas Tax (along with the Bag Bill) will send MORE citizens to MD or VA for cheaper prices. 6% seems fair for the sales tax. Still trying to figure out the summer school cuts, unless they expect a significant amount of DCPS students not to need/use it.

    I'd opt for 7-8 weeks for the Summer Youth Program myself, but I'll leave it to Fenty to parse over this. I just hope that the Council didn't rush through this because of the recess coming up.

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  • Erika Niedowski

    "LL Niedowski" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it.

  • Q™

    LL Cool J was already taken though. :)

  • 4m123

    Can we get some specificty about the cuts? What happened vis-a-vis TANF and proposed cuts to civil legal services funding?