Greater Greater Washington

No 2:00 am budget surprises please, Kwame Brown

DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown should release his final budget proposal at least 24 hours before the final vote scheduled for Wednesday, May 25. Greater Greater Washington has joined 40 organizations and individuals in a letter asking Chairman Brown to take this step toward greater transparency and accountability in the DC government.


Photo by dbking on Flickr.

Recent budgets haven't been released or even finished until a few hours before the final vote is scheduled. This is troublesome for the council members tasked with voting on the measure, as well as citizens affected by the details of the proposal.

Last-minute changes can cause outrage and consternation among DC residents, like last year's streetcar cuts which appeared at 2:00 am and were reversed the next day.

Will there be any surprise changes in this new budget which haven't gotten much public vetting? We don't know. Releasing the budget early will give stakeholders time to review and react to the proposal, and it will allow councilmembers to cast their votes with confidence.

Providing citizens and council members early access to the final budget proposal would be a concrete step towards greater transparency. Combined with his recent ethics reform proposal, releasing the budget early will show that Chairman Brown is willing to act to create a more open, ethical, and accountable city government.

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute wrote a letter to Chairman Brown urging him to release his final budget proposal at least 24 hours before the Council is scheduled to vote. Greater Greater Washington is happy to join over 40 other organizations and individuals in this important matter. We hope that Chairman Brown will consider the suggestion and avoid any 2 am surprises on Wednesday.

Matt Rumsey moved to D.C in 2005 to pursue a degree in History at American University. Originally from Connecticut, he has had no intention of leaving D.C. since he moved to Columbia Heights in the summer of 2008. He now lives in Ward 5. He currently works at The Sunlight Foundation. Views here are his own. 

Comments

The Fiscal Policy Institute noted Chairman Brown is considering eliminating the tax exemption on interest from out-of-state bonds — as a way to remove the proposal to raise income taxes on residents earning more than $200,000. While it is reassuring to some there is a trigger for the proposed tax on interest from other state's municipal bonds, these same investors will be advised to put their investment capital elsewhere. This is another Emperor has no Clothes moment for the city.

The groups listed are not exactly disinterested parties. Of course they are going to sign onto a letter if they believe there is power in numbers -- but, who believes their members are all DC residents? GGW can't claim that kind of exclusivity even if you did scare Vincent Gray on the streetcars. Fool me once ---

And now to the streetcars. If you have entered a Metro station lately chances are the escalators aren't running. Can someone explain why the city should put money into a new transportation mode when the one intended to be the primary transportation mode doesn't have adequate funding?
This has not been objectively addressed by David or his blog followers who continue to regard streetcars as new toys. Help, please?

by Karl on May 23, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

We are fed up with our Councilmembers being puppets for the greedy Washington Post editorial board. Check out our video response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU8hNrTMQ6M

by Tougher Than Ward Three on May 23, 2011 5:20 pm • linkreport

I always find it amusing how people asking for higher taxes are rarely asking for higher taxes for themselves ... But are instead asking for higher taxes for 'the rich guy'. Our politicians love that because they know that with inflation we ALL eventually become that rich guy. For example, orginally the federal income tax was only intended to apply to 'millionaires' ... but with time, and with inflation ... we have nearly all ended up earning enough to pay it.

I read somewhere that the costs of our social services during the height of the real estate boom (a four year period in the mid 200s) went up by an astonishing 60%! (Of course our councilmembers and mayor couldn't help but use the tax revenues from all those real estate sales to look like heros by just indiscriminantly pumping money into every do good organization out there.) Now that real estate revenue (from the tax recordation fees) as stopped and there isn't all this 'extra' money to just throw at ever cause out there. The mayor's budget barely reduces some of this inflated budget. It doesn't really get anywhere close to taking back this 60% in 4 years 'extra' money that got put into the budget. And yet we hear false claims of people dying and starving just because we're going only very partially back to where we were before the real estate boom and it's extra tax revenues. And of course we hear all these organizations which profited from these extra taxes screaming bloody murder. Are we surprised? This is how these guys get their salaries. Let me ask you though, how much better off are the poor and needy now that they're getting that extra 60%? Let me also ask you how much better off are these individuals and organization financially better off ... I.e., some of the same individuals and organizations which not surprizingly are wanting to be in control of our budge ... aka their checkbook ...

by Lance on May 24, 2011 8:55 am • linkreport

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