“The chairman of the D.C. Council on Tuesday abandoned his own proposal to tax advertising, leaving city officials scrambling to figure out what to cut from the budget to make up for an estimated $18 million loss in projected revenue.” This is how Washington Post reporter Fenit Nirappil opens his article on the DC Council budget vote yesterday, which Councilmembers labeled a “debacle” and a “dumpster fire.”
The advertising tax was Chairman Mendelson’s poorly thought-out proposal to raise revenue for violence interruption programs, rental assistance, mental-health treatment in schools, cash assistance for workers who are excluded from federal assistance, and more. The tax would burden the already struggling newspaper industry, and it would have been far better to raise revenues through a small increase in income taxes for the wealthiest DC families, i.e. those earning $250K or more. But a majority on the Council could not summon the political will to do so. Mendelson, Bonds, Grosso, Pinto, Cheh, Todd, McDuffie and Gray voted against the income tax increase proposed by Charles Allen on July 7th; Silverman, Robert White, Nadeau, Allen and Trayon White voted for it.
Now Chairman Mendelson has asked the Council to figure out $18M in cuts to safety net programs that are more important than ever in the middle of a pandemic. The vote is expected this Thursday afternoon. The Council can and should explore other ways to raise the revenues, including asking the wealthiest DC residents to pay more. What they should NOT do is to cut needed programs at the nth hour.
Speak up before Thursday’s vote: Click here to email your Councilmembers to urge them to NOT make further cuts to the budget. Our own Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is a key vote!
Van Ness Street