Loose Lips

Read: Gray’s State of the Budget

Almost Mayor Vince Gray gave a speech today on the state of the District's budget. The only news is that Gray is going to order a freeze on capital projects that haven't yet started and establish a blue ribbon panel to prioritize future projects.

Not mentioned in the speech: any specifics on what Gray plans to do in terms of budget cuts and tax/fee increases. We'll have to wait a few more days for that info, it seems.

After the jump, read the whole prepared speech as it appears on Gray's transition website.



Good morning.

I want to take some time this morning to speak to the people of the district – honestly, directly, and transparently– about the state of the district’s budget and finances.

Let me BEGIN by thanking Dr. NAT Gandhi and his staff who have worked with me to do a top-to-bottom review of the District’s immediate budget deficit and the structural challenges that we will face next fiscal year.  I would also like to acknowledge and thank my colleagues, starting with Chairman-elect Kwame Brown, and Councilmembers….who have joined us here today.

I’m also happy to be joined by the co-chairs of my budget and fiscal responsibility transition committee, Alice Rivlin and former Mayor Anthony Williams – two people who know a thing or two about the district’s finances, and whose expertise I will rely on as we deal with the challenges ahead.

During my campaign for Mayor, I often spoke about the need for more transparency in DISTRICT government.  Nowhere is this more important than in talking about the District’s budget, and how we are treating taxpayer dollars.

After all, it’s your money we’re dealing with – you deserve to hear honest talk about what’s going on with it.

The next few weeks are a critical time for all of us.  we are about to embark on a very important — and condensed — process to balance the current year’s budget before the end of the year.

That leaves us with very little time to deal with some very significant challenges.

Summary of the District’s Budget and Finances
As All District residents and business owners know, our city has not been immune from the country’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

As the national recession wreaked havoc on the city’s finances, the council took several long-term structural measures to ensure the District continues to live within its means.

Over the past few years, we unanimously passed legislation to:

  • place a 12% cap on all General Fund tax-supported debt;
  • use any end-of-year surplus to replenish monies that have been taken out of our General Fund balance,
  • devote 25% of all local revenue growth to pay-as-you-go capital funding in order to gradually shift the District towards a more sustainable approach to capital investments;
  • And to create a Department of Health Care Finance to help aggressively and accurately bill Medicaid for all federal funds the District is entitled to receive.

Despite these measures, the city faces many challenges ahead.

Since May 2008, when the District of Columbia experienced its first drop in revenue in over 5 years, our local revenue estimates for the current fiscal year have declined by $931.5 million — an almost 16% decline in just two and a half years.

While the District has certainly made many serious cuts to its operating budget and found some ways to increase revenue, the District’s expenditures will have exceeded its revenues four years in a row.

On top of that, we’ve seen a huge drop in the District’s Cumulative General Fund Balance.  some decline in the fund balance is understandable during a recession.  But we’ve had a projected drop of 57% in just four years – Leaving the district’s fund balance dangerously low and unable to help if revenue continues to decline or there are additional spending pressures over the next two years.

this situation would have been even worse, had the Council not taken action in November 2008 and July 2009 to preserve $166.4 million in fund balance through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.

so, to recap – for four straight years, the District has spent more than its taken in, and we’ve had to raid the  fund balance to make up for it.

As any District family or business would tell you – that’s simply not sustainable.

So how deep of a hole are we in?

Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Gap: $187.8 million

The District of Columbia currently faces a $188 million gap in its operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011.

That gap is based on revised CFO figures that show $99.8 million less in projected local revenue, and $88.1 million in projected agency overspending and other spending pressures – like special education cost overruns, salary increases, higher health and life insurance costs, and less federal dollars than expected.  (a detailed list can be found on our website at www.dccouncil.us)

As everyone knows, the District of Columbia is required to maintain a balanced budget, so we will need to complete a plan to close this budget gap before the end of December.  Having received the Mayor’s budget proposal today, the Council has two weeks before it must vote on a revised budget gap-closing plan.  this requires us to move forward with a compressed budget process that is by no means ideal but doable.

The Council will have a public hearing on November 30, on both the Mayor’s Budget Request Act and Budget Support Act gap-closing legislation.  I encourage members of the public to come to the hearing and give us ideas on how to solve the budget gap we are facing.

But, as you advance ideas, please let it be more than don’t cut this or that without offering ideas to balance the budget.

On December 7, the Council will have its first and only vote on the Budget Request Act and its first of two required votes on the Budget Support Act.  Then, on December 21, at its final legislative meeting of this session, the Council will vote on the Budget Support Act a second time.

Despite this very tight timeline, I will do everything possible to ensure that this budget gap-closing is as transparent as possible.  I will ensure that budget deliberations will be broadcast live on Channel 13, and we will ensure that budget documents are posted promptly for public viewing on the Council’s website.

In addition to solving this $188 million gap, we have to take steps to preserve our fund balance.  The budget approved last spring uses $186.2 million from the fund balance to help balance this budget.  I had originally hoped to approve a revised Fiscal Year 2011 budget that didn’t rely on the fund balance, so that this $186.2 million could be used to offset our longer-term structural gap in Fiscal Year 2012.  However, given the time we have remaining, this is no longer a realistic goal.

I do believe, however, that we can preserve $50 million out of that $186.2 million, by placing these funds in a reserve account – just as the Council did in Fiscal Year 2009.

This $50 million reserve would protect us from having to rely upon our congressionally mandated Contingency Cash Reserve to cover unforeseen pressures, because this Rainy Day Fund account would have to be repaid in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013.

While I believe that this $50 million reserve goal is achievable, we will need to remain flexible as we see how this compressed budget process unfolds.  The $50 million cash reserve might have to be made available if revenue is revised downward further or if additional spending pressures emerge.

But if we are fortunate enough to avoid additional revenue declines and new spending pressures, this $50 million can be used to help offset the severe structural budget gap we will face in Fiscal Year 2012.

This is where our most daunting challenges lie.

Structural Operating Budget Deficit in Fiscal Year 2012: $345.1 million

Even after solving the $188 million gap in Fiscal Year 2011, we will still face a gap of around $345 million in Fiscal Year 2012 when the baseline budget is released.

Among the sources of this gap are higher than expected spending in areas like debt service, medicaid, and district employee benefits (including retirement); less than expected federal dollars; repayment of additional funds for the United Medical Center; and local obligations for city programs previously paid for with one-time federal contributions.

It also includes the fund balance we’re using to close this year’s gap that, of course, will not be available to help with next year’s gap.  In fact, in fiscal year 2012, for the first time in four years, we will have to balance the district’s budget using existing revenue, and without the fund balance to rely upon.

A gap of $345 million clearly will require us to begin to examine what truly are the core service functions of this government.  While I remain hopeful that the District’s economy will turn around before we present our proposed fiscal Year 2012 budget next spring, we can’t plan that way.  The Reality is that it could be a number of years before the District’s economy fully rebounds.

Challenges we will face in Budget Gap-Closing

So how difficult will it be to tackle this hole in our budget?  Let’s first take a look at what our operating budget.

The District’s total local Operating Budget is Roughly $5.3 Billion.

$1.5 billion of the budget is from Fixed costs, debt service payments, and inter-jurisdictional obligations – such as METRO.  Those costs don’t give us much room to play with, and historically have been difficult to achieve substantial savings from.

That leaves us approximately $3.8 billion from which to find the remaining savings.

Of this $3.8 billion budget:

  • roughly One-Quarter goes to pay for the salaries of District employees at just three agencies: D.C. Public Schools, the Metropolitan Police Department, and Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
  • About 25% goes to pay for the salaries of All other District employees.
  • Another 25% is used to pay for the Local match for D.C. Medicaid and the D.C. Public Charter School payment.
  • And the final 25% goes to pay for everything else.

This illustrates how difficult it will be to solve a gap of over 10% of the District’s budget during the next two years, because traditionally, Medicaid, public safety, and schools have been spared from major cuts.

We face just as many challenges when we look at the revenue side of the ledger.  Over 80% of the District’s local revenue comes from three sources: property tax, sales tax, and income tax.  And as we’ve already seen, the economic slump we’re in has resulted in lower than expected revenue.

And as we’ve also seen in recent years, fee and fine increases are not an effective or long-term solution to increasing the District’s revenue.

This means that the District would not raise significant revenue unless we target one or more of the major tax categories.

Let me be clear – all options will have to be on the table if we’re going to fix this gap in our operating budget.

But let me be equally clear about this – i know that too many District families and businesses are hurting from the recession as much as or even more than the District government.  So I will not ask District residents or businesses to pay one single dollar in tax increases without first assuring them that we have scrubbed the budget and found every last dollar in savings first.

And, that we can be clear about the consequences of not raising new revenue.

Challenges in the Capital Budget
If things aren’t bad enough looking at the operating budget, the challenges in the District’s capital budget are perhaps even more serious.  Since 2002, the District’s outstanding debt has more than doubled, going from $3.5 billion in 2002 to $7.1 billion in 2010.  Had the Council not established a 12% debt ceiling, we would likely now be well above 12%.

With recent reductions in revenue, about $120 million will need to be reduced each year from the District’s annual capital improvements plan to stay within the debt cap by Fiscal Year 2014.

Additionally, after working with the Chief Financial Officer, we have identified $44.7 million of capital Full-Time Employee/Equivalents (known as FTE’s) and contracting services that more appropriately belong in the operating budget.  In Fiscal Year 2012, we will likely shift all or a portion of these FTEs and services back to the operating budget, in order to restore appropriate budgeting and relieve $44.7 million of pressure annually from the capital budget.  but doing so will obviously add more pressure to the gap we face on the operating side of the budget in Fiscal Year 2012.

To fix this, The District of Columbia needs to do a better job of setting priorities and making tough choices about which capital projects it decides to finance.  simply put, as is true with any family or business facing tough times, it’s time we distinguish between the projects we NEED versus the projects that we want.

I am going to propose a freeze on all capital projects not yet underway.  I then intend to establish a Blue Ribbon panel of capital experts to make recommendations on prioritizing our capital needs within the confines of the 12% debt cap.  And, once again, I will ask Mayor Williams and Dr. Rivlin to assist.  Exceptions to the freeze will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

After the Blue Ribbon panel releases its capital findings, Fiscal Year 2011 capital projects that are consistent with the panel’s report may be unfrozen with little or no delay to the project’s timetable.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the fiscal challenges we face are daunting.  and the decisions we are about to make are tough.  as your next Mayor, I commit to addressing these challenges head on.  I will not use short-sighted budget gimmicks to push the problem off until later.  The budget that I propose next spring will be straightforward and we will make the tough choices that are necessary to secure the District’s financial future.

Many of these decisions are going to be painful.  And let me be clear up front – everyone is going to have to take a hit and share in the sacrifice.  That’s the only way we’re going to be able to keep our city on sound financial footing in both the short and long term.

That’s why we need your help.  As I mentioned earlier, the process for dealing with the current year’s budget shortfall is going to be compressed.  But we still need to hear from you.  Come to the public hearing on Nov. 30.  Send us your comments and thoughts on our website.  however you do it, Make sure we hear from you.

And as we look towards next year’s budget crisis, I promise to engage the community every step of the way.  By fully involving the public and all stakeholders in budget development, people not only will be better able to understand the tough choices we are making, but they will have a voice in the process.  As I’ve said many times before, that is the only way we can truly come together as One City, in which everyone has to make sacrifices, but no one is treated unfairly.

And while we’re working on dealing with our current fiscal challenges, we’re going to simultaneously work on getting our economy back on track, creating more jobs for DIstrict residents, and helping our small business owners succeed.  recently we announced that we will hold a District job creation summit on December 13.  If we help more DIstrict residents get back to work, and help more District small businesses thrive, it not only helps District families, but will help create the revenue we need to invest in the city’s core services.

Finally, let me say this.  as we enter this week of Thanksgiving, allow me to offer my thanks to the people of the District of Columbia who have proven time and again their resilience and willingness to sacrifice to help create a great city.  As we prepare to face a new set of challenges, I know that everyone will step up and do their share once again – and for that, I am humbled and extend my personal thanks.

It is that spirit which truly makes us One City.

Thank you.

  • RT

    Great speech. Republicans take note- this is how you balance a budget. No talk of "eliminating the department of education" while at the same time suggesting additional military funding. Gray sounds like he is taking a reasonable approach without any gimmicks.

  • Skipper

    One (bankrupt) City.

  • Concernedaboutdc

    All current directors who contributed to the deficit by overspending their budget should be replaced.

    This will send a strong message from the start that this will not be tolerated and that accountability will begin at the top.

    Freezing all new capital projects is a good start. However, there are those not too far along to suspend for a year or two; like streetcars.

  • Truth Hurts

    The speech repeatedly criticizes overspending "each of the last four years." I'm pretty sure Fenty was the mayor who proposed city budgets each of those last four years. Anyone remember who chaired the city council that approved city budgets each of those last four years?

  • TheForce

    @truthHurts...Um Newsflash knuckle-head!!! Overspending refers to someone or something not adhering to a proposed budget And spending more than they were alotted.... Meaning Fenty and his administration did not adhere to what was settled upon by the council…Thus even if the mayor and council approved a financial plan, but the mayor spent over what was discussed, then the MAYOR OVERSPENT!!! duh

  • Truth Hurts

    @TF: "The District's expenditures will have exceeded its revenues FOUR YEARS IN A ROW". Read the speech, wordsmith!!

    Do you recall who was council chair during those four years?

    Or do you think Gray meant to say the city budget problems stem only from executive overspending? If that's the case, his speech could've been shortened up: "My administration will never spend a dime more than the council approves". duh

  • Truth Hurts

    On the whole, I thought the speech was a good starting point. It broadly identified fundamental problems, and it broadly outlined a framework to attack those problems. Implementing effective solutions, though, ultimately will be the true test.

    @DCDem: You likely already saw where he left open the option of tax increases, but thought I'd mention it in case you hadn't read the speech.

  • downtown rez

    Gray approved- voted for- every budget in the past years.
    He may have grandstanded about this or that element in them, but he didn't make any tough choices.
    It's like he was born yesterday and, now waking for the first time, is shocked SHOCKED to find we're in financial hot water.
    I can hear Gray/Corleonenow:
    How did things ever get so far?

  • Sally

    Did anyone notice Gray's utter bullshit line: He bashed Fenty (as did his many online minions) for spending down the rainy day fund.

    Yet what's his plan to balance the budget? To take a whole lot of the rainy day fund to balance the budget.

    But it's ok because he will create a special fund of $50 million.

    Which may be spent next year to balance the budget.

    One City, Zero Fiscal Credibility.

    What Gray didn't mention:

    * Unions will see major cuts to government employees.
    * Streetcar funding is dead (sorry David Alpert, you bet on the wrong horse).
    * Tax increases are on their way.
    * Cuts to police (so much for his promise to increase the number of cops).
    * Cuts to DCPS (except, of course, his unfunded mandate of universal Pre-K).
    * Reduction in city services.

  • noodlez

    SALLY, DREZ AND TRUTH=MENAGE A TWITS

  • TheForce

    @TruthHurts You said "The speech repeatedly criticizes overspending "each of the last four years." I'm pretty sure Fenty was the mayor who proposed city budgets each of those last four years. Anyone remember who chaired the city council that approved city budgets each of those last four years?"

    Speaking only to what you said.Because youre speaking about BUDGETS and overspending which is only in regards to a BUDGET.... a BUDGET has line items. If you have a line item that says 100 dollars for toilet paper and you spend 200 thats overspending. Whether or not the city made what it expected has nothing to do with your above statement. Maybe I could break it down for you further. If mommy gave you her debit card and she said only spend $20 on it and you spent $30, you overspent. Regardless of whether she had $40 in her account or $10 you still spent more than she told you to. Meaning you didn’t hold up your part of the agreement meaning you were wrong…get it. If anyone in the admin spent OVER what they had in the budget line item, then they OVERspent. there is proof that many of the agencies did this. DUH

  • tformation

    Had a chance to see Gray speak yesterday.... he ask that we all come to the table. He asked for everyones opinion. He said even if we didnt agree with him, he still wanted to hear our suggestions/solutions.

    He ALSO asked that for every one thing you say/think/feel hes doing wrong or needs to do differently, that you have one solution to match it. TH, Drez, Sally... are you up to it? Or do you need to waste two or more years being bitter about Fenty losing and hoping the city turns to garbage so you can say I told you so?

    Side note.... if the city does go back to the crack infested 80's as a lot of disappointed Fenty supporters seem to frequently want, it will more than likely be you all that has a harder time staying safe and secure. So are you SURE you want to work towards that goal or maybe you can get off your high horse long enough to come down to the barn and work with us little people to make this city a place we ALL can feel counted in.

    I mean, I know YOU felt like you mattered... thats obvious by your post... but for those other 500,000 of us who didnt, dont you think we at least deserved to have someone FAKE like they were concerned about us? Well now we do. And fake or not, Grey will have a whole lot more help and resourses at his disposal simply because he doesnt throw people in the trash if he doesnt need them today.

    I think you all know better... your just being disagreeable on the blogss. I bet in person you all will be the first to help wherever you can wont you?

  • LOL

    Truth, we have agreed in so many other areas recently, but I have to disagree with you here.

    There was a problem with agencies overspending budgets when Fenty was mayor. The budgets proposed by the mayor and approved by the Gray and the council were routinely busted in areas like education.

    That being said, I don't think that it is pretty fair to put all of that at Fenty's feet. Some of these budget ailments should be reason to retire our CFO.

    A few times over the years, agency directors like Rhee were told that there were deficits then surpluses. At other times, the Agency Fiscal Officers seemed to be flat up evasive and dumb.

    Overall, we need to look at how we create and spend a city budget. It seems like we are a larger version of a family that bought a big house in a boom time and don't want to take responsibility for the band financing options we used. That does fall at fenty for overspending and Ghandi for not questioning the financial footing of the city more [like when the old cfo would check barry's crazy in the control board days]

  • noodlez

    YEAH tformation! THAT SHIT WAS ON POINT AND MUCH NEEDED.

  • kob

    I'm having a hard time believing that DC is facing a "budget crisis."

    A $187 million shortfall for a city the size of DC is an addressable problem, not a crisis.

  • DCitizen

    Drez is patently wrong about the Council approving Fenty's budget. Each year, and I've been a part of it every single time, the Council spends a ton of time trying to fix the stupidity offered by the Fenty Administration. They've never approved a Fenty budget without making some serious changes. But that's all they can do. It's Fenty's job to manage the budget and the Council's job to oversee it. But ask anyone who worked on the Council's staff and they will gladly tell you that getting information from Department heads about spending has been excuriating these past four years and purposely done so at the behest of Fenty.
    A lot of the City's financial problems has to do with the Meglomaniac's insistence on not working with others, on doing this his way, and his way only. Even his strongest ally on the Council, Jack Evans, has criticized Fenty's spending habits.

    You can't rewrite history pal.

  • DCitizen

    Kob- it's more than that. Revenues are projected out and if we don't capture the same levels of revenues projected, then that's where the crisis occurs. I think the City will see a $400-$500 million deficit during the next fiscal year, and over a $1 billion in the next two years.
    There is a lot of fat in the budget though, and Gray should start chopping away.

  • TheForce

    @Sally, Please look at the amount the "Rainy Day Fund" had before Fenty Took office and then, look at what it is now... Ur argument sounds like those who blame Obama for not getting the country out of debt fast enough when they really should be blaming Bush for 8 years of fiscal irresponsibility. DC got into this mess, not because Grays admin didnt spend within the constraints of the budget but because Fenty's admin overspent.

  • drez

    The council has the responsibility to approve the budget and allocate funding for it. Each budget in the past 4 years has passed through the council, and is a product of that journey. That is the way it works in DC.

    I don't need to rewrite history. Anyone who knows anything about DC knows I'm pointing out the simple truth. Regardless of howinconvenient it is for Vincent Gray flaks and apologists now that he has to make all these tough choices.

  • tformation

    The council has the responsibility to approve the budget and allocate funding for it. Each budget in the past 4 years has passed through the council, and is a product of that journey. That is the way it works in DC.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And that is exactly WHAT they did....

    now take it one step further.

    AFTER the council approves a budget, THE MAYOR has the RESPONSIBILITY to stick to the approved budget and not allow his agency heads to go over it....

    DOES/SUMMER JOBS- went over the council aproved budget by almost double
    DCPS- went so far over budget they had to rif (I mean there WAS a deficit right... at least thats what you all want us to believe.. and Rhee even testified at a hearing that there was no way she could do her job while sticking to the councils approved budget... which is when she should have been relieved of said job)
    MPD- over budget
    DCFD- overbudget by a rediculous amount.
    Need I go through every agency? It's just more of the same...

    The council told them they had a certain amount to spend, and being employees of Fenty's, they all said F the council, I'm going to do what I/Fenty wants me to do and spend as much as I want. Because you see, just like all those court orders Fenty has recieved and ignored to rehire wrongly terminated employees (costing the city double in damages), he believed that a council approved budget was just an opinion/suggestion that he could or could not follow, but that HE, THE KING... I mean Mayor, had the final decision on weather to follow it or not.

  • DCitizen

    Drez- you douche, when will you ever admit that Fenty had a hand in anything. You've defended any of the shady shit he's done, but rather only try to deflect it by blaming someone else. Utilizing your logic, Fenty is the Mayor that never was. You're a little delusional if you honestly believe the shit you're claiming here. But like I've said before, nothing surprises me with the hypocrisy that you embody.

  • TheForce

    I think D Rez doesnt understand what a budget is. A budget is a plan. A document that states how you will spend the money you have. What happened to cause this crisis was that the Mayor didnt stick to this plan. As usual he created his own, however his plan turned out not to take into account reality. He thought he could dip into his savings (Rainy Day Fund) to cover his booty. How can the council be to blame for agreeing on a BALANCED BUDGET but then the mayor not following it? And if you remember correctly, when the council could do something about the mayors overspending, they stopped him in his tracks. i.e. Summer Youth Employment overspending!

  • DCitizen

    TheForce- I guarantee that DRez would be a CPA if it was the other way around and Gray had made the same exact choices as Fenty. I know that I favor Gray, but I wouldn't for a second question the man's intentions or actions if I suspected that he was doing any of the things Fenty has done. I was a gung-ho Fenty supporter back in the day and worked on his campaign last time round. But the man has exhibited a disdain for accountability and his vanity is the reason why thousands of residents will suffer these next coming years.
    Anyone who followed the budget cycles knows the extent of the Council's work to balance the budget when Fenty couldn't. This just doesn't seem to matter to Fentites, just like shady contracts to his frat buddies amounting to $87 million plus, doesn't phase them one bit. Crazy.

  • drez

    What is the aggregate amount by which the Fenty Admin overspent the budget in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010?
    What is the total overage compared (as so often people do) with the Concil's reliance on the ~$1 billion of our "rainy day fund" we've burned through?
    Your arguments are useless without putting them in that sort of context.

  • TheForce

    @ Drez

    http://cfoinfo.dc.gov/cognos8/finance.htm

    Go to that site, look in the right hand corner check the table that says allotments and expenditures. The allotment bar is blue and the expenses bar is green. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 The green bar is larger than the blue bar, meaning the city spent more than it was allotted. You can do the math yourself to find out how much it was. and you can browse the website to find exactly which agencies over spent.

    Have Fun

  • Mary

    Why is Gray asking for suggestions on how to cut the budget? He is elected and paid to do that and take the responsibility for good management. It is obvious he is not looking at budget cuts or program cuts, he just wants to raise taxes and then say you people asked for it. What a whimp! What a manipulator! Raise the taxes on the wealthy income first and see if that fills the hole.

  • DCitizen

    Mary- what would you have him do instead? Dip into the City's savings account, risking the Control Board again, as Fenty has been doing these last few years. The guy isn't even Mayor yet and everything he does is scrutinized to no end. Years of no communication from Fenty's camp doesn't seem to matter to you folks. But whenever Gray says anything about what he might do down the road, an army of Fentites attack...

    Drez- having fun yet? Facts are harder to swallow huh?

  • downtown rez

    @TheForce
    The best you can do is to punt?

  • TheForce

    @Drez Huh? How did I punt, cause I didn't feel like doing the exact math at work. I put the info in frnt of you so you can figure out how much to the penny the Fenty Admin overspent. I know what happened. They overspent terribly. you're the one who wanted exact figures so I pointed you in the direction to get the figures for yourself. What you can't read? Do I have to do everything for you?

  • downtown rez

    Yeah, you punted. Let's rewind the dialog, shall we?
    Gray says: We're in a hole! The past administration put us there!
    I say:
    What do you mean? Gray passed and allocated funding for all of the budgets that Gray himself now says put us in this hole.
    You are say:
    No, it wasn't the budgets that Gray is responsible for that put us in this hole, it's that Fenty overspent them.
    I say:
    By how much?
    You punt.

    By the way, don't offer to do anything for me until you show some level of ability to do... anything.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ LOL: You're the only commenter disagreeing with my posts who merits a response. The rest are either too nasty or just dumb.

    Re your comment #13, I don't think I claimed (and didn't mean to if it came accross that way) that Fenty's administration didn't have agency overspending. It's happened in many administrations, and may've happened more with Fenty than with others -- I don't have the stats to say either way.

    And I agree that multiple actors (eg, CFO) were plain wrong and/or not realistic in their projections. At the same time, I'm troubled by those who wrongly (either on purpose or by mistake) place most or all of the blame on Fenty.

    Budget gaps and drastically declining revenue crises hit the wealthiest and best managed counties and states, not just DC. So even budgeted expenses, based on anticipated revenue, had to be dealt with when revenue tanked. One method of patching the shortfalls that Fenty chose, and the council(led by Gray) approved, was drawing down the rainy day fund.

    Looking forward, tough financial decisions must be made if DC is to continue progressing. In my view, the best way to generate support for a unified forward looking effort is for everyone to own up to the facts and stop blaming everything on folks whose support Gray will need.

  • DCitizen

    Drez- you're an idiot. You ask for data, it is offered, and you choose to ignore it and claim that the ball has been dropped because you don't want to click on a link to the CFO's site. Nice, you must be a republican.

    The fact remains that the budget problems occurred during Fenty's Administration. How ever you want to palm off responsibility will not change this fact.

    Don't worry, soon enough, Fenty will be a private citizen again and he wouldn't have the burden of being blamed for his shoddy mayoralty, only the legacy.

    TH- thank you for at least agreeing that Fenty had some role in it. Drez seems to believe otherwise. But do keep in mind what the role of the Council is in relation to the budget. They get to approve and try to have some oversight. Remember, this is one of the reason Fenty routed the Parks contracts through a different agency so that Karim could be awarded it- no Council oversight necessary. Look at the past budget hearings. The council is asking department heads for reasons why their budgets are off and overspent each year and their responses, or lack thereof, are very telling.
    If anyone is to believe that Gray, who needs at least 8 others to agree with him, is largely or even as liable as Fenty was for the City's budget woes, is simply mistaken.

  • TheForce

    Im laughing cause I thought D Rez was smarter than the person he is portraying on this post. How many ways can I spell it out to you. Whether the budget was perfect, imperfect, flawed or otherwise, IF MAYOR FENTY AND HIS TEAM SPENT OVER WHAT WAS SET IN THE BUDGET, THEN HE OVER SPENT! Lets say Gray did approve a bad budget (which he couldnt have because budgets have to be balanced otherwise we risk control board oversight again) FENTY and the Admin STILL OVERSPENT, making a bad situation even worse. Youre lazy. If you cant go to the CFOs site and do the math which is laid out for you then this post debate is over. Its clear he over spent by a great deal. You just dont want to admit it and say it yourself. #Punk!

  • Drez

    TheForce, DCitizen
    My point, which you seem to want to avoid at all cost, is that claiming we're in a financial hole because Fenty overspent the budgets that Gray approved (and year after year raided our rainy day reserves in order to fund) makes no sense whatsoever.
    This for the simple reason that the amount of overspending (yes we all know there was some) was small in proportion to the amount of spending called for by the budgets that Gray approved- and funded using that "missing" billion from our rainy day reserves.
    Sticking your heads in the sand (or wherever) doesn't negate this fundamental fact, and name calling really doesn't make your attempted rebuttals any stronger.

    In sum: Yeah, yeah. Overspending = Bad. But passing year after year of budgets and later pretending not to have any hand in it = Dishonesty at its worst.
    Or at least that's how I see it.

    And, by the way, I think it was a good idea to draw down the reserves and spend those moneys on infrastructure. It's a classic good government/best practices response to a recession. it's a form of stimulus package. It's pretty much what ARRA is all about. It's just a shame that the recession has lasted this long, and our reserves are at a level we can't draw down further without impacting the cost of carrying additional debt.
    I guess in the big picture I think this whole argument over who gets the blame for our current financial situation is dishonest. It's a red herring. We are where we are because of decisions made mutually by the executive and the legislative. It is what it is. The reason I'm complaining is that Team Gray is trying to sell it as something else. And that's just dishonest.

  • DCitizen

    Drez- you calling anything dishonest is simply hilarious. Years of shady contracts (routing contracts so that they can't have oversight by the proper authorities is shady), thousands of FOIA denials, unannounced trips abroad, and general bad behaving, with you fighting tooth and nail against any who questioned these practices, is just telling of what a hypocrite you are.
    Now, a billion dollars overspent later, you're here questioning possibility one of the few who actually tried to do something about it.
    Dogs parks are necessary infrastructure projects that warrants drawing down on the City's safety net.
    The facts negate your existence on these blogs.

  • Drez

    Really, DCitizen, you changing the topic again? Okay, if you insist. There has not been a single judgment against, indictment, or even any finding of wrongdoing by a non-judicial source against any Fenty Admin official. Not a single one. That, FYI, is a record unmatched by any previous administration. You say shady contracts, I say Fenty used the same contracting vehicle (DHCD) that Williams did before him. And where is the "result" of that council investigation? And then you invent some fantasy about how you know what the facts are.
    Cluetrain: Regardless of any of the above, the facts are that Gray chaired the council that approved and allocated funds for every budget over the past four years. And he raided the rainy day fund to do it.

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  • DCitizen

    Drez- again, you seem oblivious to facts. The contracts that were awarded to Karim and Skinner weren't routed through DHCD, like they were supposed to be done, but rather, funneled $100 million through DC Housing Authority for the Parks and Recs department- http://voices.washingtonpost.com/debonis/2010/06/will_fenty_change_his_tune_on.html.
    So, yeah, your selective reasoning can't cancel the truth, no matter how hard you're trying. And yes, Williams did use the proper channels, that's why no one is criticizing him.
    I'm not the one infamous for evading the issue at hand, that's your M.O. Your blind allegiance to the numerous flaws of Fenty really is simply baffling.

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