WASHINGTON, July 11 Outgoing Washington, D.C.
Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the budget passed by the city council
last month, saying on Friday it would harm the district's
elderly and calling on the council to delay their summer recess
and craft a new spending plan.
"I cannot, in good conscience, sign a budget that hurts
seniors, taxes wellness, dramatically delays and drives up the
cost of the D.C. Streetcar system, and ties the hands of future
mayors to respond to fiscal problems," Gray said in a statement.
The council could still override Gray's veto, especially
given that only one member voted against the budget.
The mayor noted that he will not be in office when the
budget is implemented. Washington's fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
Gray also said the budget "guts the tax cuts we promised our
seniors." Specifically, it ended property tax relief for seniors
with annual household income of less than $60,000 and repealed
the long-term care insurance tax deduction as well as the
government pension tax exclusion.
At the same time, he said future mayors would not be able to
make any spending or program proposals until a list of tax cuts
was fully funded and they would not be able to reprogram funds
without active approval from the council.
He said District of Columbia employees would lose interest
in living in the city because the budget repealed a first-time
homebuyer credit, and added the plan would discourage residents
from pursuing healthy lifestyles by taxing gyms and yoga
As the population of the nation's capital has grown over the
last few years, so has the pressure to complete a 22-mile
streetcar system. The council's cuts to the system's funding
would push its completion date to 2045 and make it impossible
"to attract a firm with the necessary experience and expertise
to take on building the project in a piecemeal fashion and on
such an extended timeframe," Gray said.
Washington and its surrounding suburbs made it through the
2007-09 economic downturn relatively unscathed, but as the
federal government has pulled back on spending or deadlocked in
budget fights, the area has seen its tax revenue and job growth
The district brought in $3.692 billion in revenue for the
fiscal year through May, a decline of 0.1 percent from the same
period a year earlier, according to a recent report.
On June 23, the district's Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey
DeWitt said the council's budget was balanced and compliant with
Washington's debt cap. He also raised issues about having
revenue growth trigger tax cuts, emphasizing a possible need to
save money for future fiscal years.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert)