Loose Lips

Gray’s Proposed Budget: Money for Everyone!

Mayor Vince Gray hasn't said whether he intends to run for re-election yet, but the proposed budget he released today sure looks like something an incumbent seeking to retain office might put out.

Councilmembers were heaping praise on the mayor today, thanking him for addressing seemingly all of their wards, their issues and their pet projects. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who says he's running for mayor, wasn't even at the Wilson Building today but still asked Gray to read a statement at a news conference praising the proposed budget.

Some of the goodies include:

  • $100 million Gray wants to spend on affordable housing, with $87 million being put towards the Housing Production Trust fund in an effort to spur more construction of cheaper living units in the city
  • More than $140 million on new library construction, including $103 million on renovating downtown's MLK Library
  • Repealing the unpopular tax on out-of-District municipal bonds passed two years ago, which will undoubtedly make Ward 3 retirees happy
  • $50 million for "park space in NoMa; "$20 million for the Fort Dupont ice rink; $18 million for renovations at Southeast Tennis and Learning Center
  • $400 million for the streetcar program
  • $10.7 million to expand bike lanes
  • $56 million to give raises to city government employees
  • And, last but certainly not least: New "supercan" garbage bins for everyone!

Some agencies would see double-digit yearly percentage increases under Gray's budget. Gray has pledged to reform the Office of Contracting and Procurement by beefing up staffing and increasing employee training. Its yearly budget would increase by 33 percent under Gray's proposal. D.C. Public Libraries' budget would go up 23 percent; the Department of Human Services budget would go up 11 percent.

Of course, it's easy to spend money when you have a lot to spend. These days, D.C. is flush with cash and looks to be for a long time coming. As for those high District taxes people like to complain about, Gray says his budget has no new taxes or new fees. But he said he's going to let a tax commission headed by former Mayor Tony Williams do its work before he considers reducing any tax rates. Gray, who pushed through an income-tax increase on the wealthy two years ago to close a budget gap, sounded like a supply-side guy today, saying the best way to raise money is through making D.C. more business-friendly and competitive. "We can grow tax revenues without raising our tax rates," he said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • CJ

    Hope there is enough money left for DCFD ... Sure hope nothing happens in the next couple of years ... That's how long it takes to get new trucks/engines. Haven't lived in the area for a few years and see nothing has changed ... Same old DC govt.

  • mizwillis

    CJ

    This time around maybe you can make some positive suggestion for solutions instead of griping. Just curious!

    What made you come back to a place for which you seem to have such disdain? Why not go to a place more suitable to your liking?

  • tony

    Man, I love the Mayor's budget. He has set aside monies to bring back vocational training programs to our public schools so that our young brothers and sisters can get some worthy vocational training.

    Vince is the man!

    Now, this is what you call good leadership!

  • Drez

    Free Puppies and Kittens for Everyone!
    (except those folks who are allergic. they get goldfish)

    But seriously, there is something for everyone in this. Who needs earmarking?

    Is the entire document available online? Or just the press release?

  • http://davidgaines.com David Gaines

    The entire budget can be seen here: http://budget.dc.gov/overview

    FEMS's proposed budget is $202m, a 1.6% increase of 2013.

  • drez

    @David Gaines:
    Thanks for the link. The way it is posted is particularly non-linear. I can link to specific portions (as defined by EOM) but not read the document straight through? How do I view a particular page as cited by anyone?
    This isn't a very helpful way to make the info available. Far better would be to post the document with, at least, the search features that were available 10 years ago.

  • drez

    At least if were posted as a pdf I could download it and search by word or character string...

  • drez

    Seems to me I've heard these complaints before, somewhere...

  • http://davidgaines.com David Gaines

    @drez
    I searched all over for a .pdf to view too but couldn't find anything else. And there's nothing in the budget to improve this annoyance or who to call to get a copy.

  • Don’t like high taxes!

    City paper reported that 3 contracts worth almost $2Billion of our taxes were awarded for health care of poor over and above what our taxes pay from federal govt.And over and above poor people pay for health insurance.

    Another few hundred millions are spent on other poor programs..It seems like 60to 70% of our tax dollars are for give me's..This is not fair and balanced..Of course we don't know if they actually reach the needy in full amounts. May be half do! Doesn't anyone want to protest that?

  • worksforme
  • drez

    Thanks. It would be nice if the entire document was downloadable in pdf or word or other searchable format.

  • Willie Neckbone

    Where is the money for youth programs? This guy rode to the Mayorship claiming more support for youth and reneged big time. Summer contractors are working for 75% less money. The youth year round programs were gutted. All contracts geared toward larger out of town non-profits, while the locals with good performance records are scatching and fighting for crumbs. Contract proposals give 2 points for past performance and 12 points for flowery language.

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