Mayor Proposes $9.4 Billion Budget
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 02:03
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray unrolled a $9.4 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year 2013 that contains no new taxes or fees but includes spending cuts and several initiatives to increase revenue.
The initiatives will aim to close the District’s $172.1 million budget deficit.
The mayor’s proposal, which was released Friday, includes a stipulation that would extend the number of hours permitted for alcohol sales in hopes of generating an extra $5.5 million.
If the budget is approved, bars would be able to remain open until 3 a.m. on weekdays and until 4 a.m. on weekends, and liquor stores would be allowed to open one hour earlier every day of the week.
The budget would also establish a “presidential inauguration week” in January of 2013 and 2017, during which bars could operate at weekend hours all week and restaurants could serve food 24 hours a day.
Other revenue-increasing proposals include traffic measures such as the installation of more speeding and red-light cameras, expected to generate $24.8 million, and changes to the tax code, anticipated to net an additional $28.2 million.
All told, the additional revenue will amount to $69.4 million, or a little over a third of the district’s current budget deficit.
The rest of the deficit will be addressed with $103 million in spending cuts, largely to health care coverage. The largest single cut would be $23 million from the D.C. Healthcare Alliance Program, which provides health care coverage to low-income residents.
“We had to make difficult choices, but we believe this budget maintains the right level of government services, including protecting our most vulnerable citizens, without raising taxes,” Gray said in a statement.
The announcement of the mayor’s budget is the first step in an often-prolonged process involving both the D.C. Council and the federal government.
On Tuesday, the mayor, the district’s chief financial officer, the city administrator and the budget director will testify before the council, which is set to vote on the budget May 15.
After the budget is approved by the council, it must be submitted to Congress for review as part of the federal budget process. This has been problematic in past years; last April, the District was on the verge of a municipal shutdown due to delays in the approval process before Congress came to an 11th hour agreement.
According to Georgetown’s Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming, the possibility of a federal shutdown — and therefore a municipal shutdown for the District — is not unlikely.
“Right now … the Senate and the House of Representatives are dealing with two different sets of numbers in terms of overall spending,” he said, referring to the fact that two very different appropriations bills are being considered by the two chambers. “It will be challenging at best to find agreement and … there is a risk that [a shutdown] could occur.”