Greater Greater Washington

How much federal money does DC actually get?

Opponents of DC budget autonomy often cite Congressional funding for the city's budget as justification of federal meddling in DC affairs. But it turns out several states rely on federal largesse even more than the District.


Photo by zzzack on Flickr.

A Congressional appropriations subcommittee recently passed a $637 million payment to the District that includes a number of provisions detailing how the city can and cannot spend money.

That bill will now make its way to the House appropriations committee, and then to the entire House and Senate for final passage. At each stage members of Congress may offer amendments to further restrict the District's authority in matters such as needle exchange, abortion, and gun control.

Many members of Congress believe it is their duty to micromanage the District's local budget. Representative Darrel Issa of California, who chairs the House committee that is primarily responsible for the District, has said that Congress has an obligation to oversee how DC spends its money because "federal taxpayer dollars fund a large portion of the District's budget."

Many people readily agree with that statement. It seems to make sense. Of course the federal government pays for the operations of the federal district. This argument is also often cited by opponents of DC voting rights, who say that DC residents shouldn't have a vote in Congress because they are recipients of so much federal government largesse.

Given these facts, it seems prudent to question just exactly what percentage of the District's budget is paid using federal funds. What exactly qualifies as a "large portion"? 50%? 75%?

Not even close. Federal funds in fact make up only about 25% of the District's local budget.

Of course, having the feds pick up the tab for one-quarter of the city government's expenditures is nothing to sneeze at. Certainly that represents a greater percentage of the local budget than any other state government, right?

Wrong.

The US Census Bureau calculates the total federal funds transferred to state and local governments, and the total revenues collected in each state. The latest available figures (2008) reveal that Mississippi leads the nation with 35% of its combined state and local budget revenue coming from the federal government. Louisiana is a close second at 34%, followed by New Mexico and South Dakota at 27% each.

The District government receives the same percentage of federal funds as Alabama, Montana, Vermont, and West Virginia. In all, 8 states receive as much or more aid than the District. The complete list can be found below.

StateTotal state &
local revenues
Federal fundsPercent
MS23.68.235%
LA44.215.134%
SD5.21.427%
NM16.94.527%
AL31.88.125%
DC11.83.025%
WV13.73.425%
MT8.52.125%
VT6.11.525%
AR19.64.824%
ME10.82.624%
KY29.57.024%
RI9.42.122%
WY9.42.122%
OK26.85.922%
MI68.614.922%
MO42.29.122%
ID10.52.221%
ND6.71.421%
OR29.05.920%
AZ47.79.720%
SC35.47.020%
NC77.215.120%
MN45.78.919%
HI11.92.319%
IA25.04.819%
GA73.014.019%
IN46.48.619%
OH100.918.719%
TN48.08.818%
NY243.944.718%
MD45.48.218%
WI41.77.418%
NH9.61.718%
PA109.719.017%
TX196.533.017%
IL104.217.317%
UT23.03.817%
KS22.73.716%
CA354.057.716%
FL148.023.316%
NE17.82.816%
DE8.41.315%
MA73.511.215%
WA63.29.315%
CT33.34.714%
VA58.2814%
NJ85.911.513%
AK18.82.413%
CO47.15.612%
NV20.02.312%
All dollar figures in billions.

Clearly, multiple other states receive a larger percentage of their budget from Congress without any of the oversight that accompanies DC's role as capital city.

Mr. Issa may ultimately be right that Congress has the authority and responsibility to exercise a higher level of oversight regarding the District, but if so it is not because of the false belief that the local government is funded to the hilt with federal dollars.

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A native Washingtonian, Adam currently resides in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland where he studied political science and he has a keen interest in local governance. 

Comments

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Strawman argument that avoids a minor detail: Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

by Fritz on Jul 5, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

How come the FEDS dont micromanage the states that receive more in FEDERAL FUNDING than DC does

by Jerome on Jul 5, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

Fritz, nobody is arguing that Article I/Section 8 doesn't give Congress ultimate oversight over DC. But there's nothing in the Constitution that would stop Congress from putting the District on a longer leash than it does in practice. The real point here is that people like Issa don't just give the "Article I Section 8" answer when pressed about why the District is micromanaged; they talk about DC's financial incompetence instead. If DC is really no worse off than several states (admittedly Louisiana and Mississippi aren't exactly great company to be in here) then this argument doesn't really hold water. (Or do you think Congress would micromanage Mississippi's finances too if they could Constitutionally?)

by jfruh on Jul 5, 2011 2:44 pm • linkreport

@Fritz

Tell that to Congressman Issa. Maybe he'll change his talking points then - it's Issa's logic that's flawed here.

by Alex B. on Jul 5, 2011 2:44 pm • linkreport

@Fritz

Congress already delegates some of its powers outlined in section 8 - namely the postal service (a gov't owned corporation) and existing DC Home Rule. There's nothing that says congress must exercise all the authority granted to it.

by MLD on Jul 5, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

While this makes a valid point, we should also be comparing per capita contribution and comparing our funding levels to that of other municipalities.

As a comparison, using 2010 census data, I selected the following states form the above chart - West Virginia, Mississippi, Nevada, Maryland, California, Texas and New York. I selected West Virginia because it is our equal in budgetary percentage, Mississippi because it has the highest budgetary percentage, Nevada because it is the lowest budget percentage, Virginia and Maryland because they neighbor DC, California, Texas and New York because they are the most populous states and Wyoming because it is the least populous state.

DC's population is 601,723 yielding a per capita contribution of $4.99

West Virginia's population is 1,859,815, yielding a per capita contribution of $1.83

Mississippi's population is 2,967,297, yielding a per capita contribution of $2.76

Nevada's population is 2,700,551, yielding a per capita contribution of $0.85

Virginia's population is 8,001,024, yielding a per capita contribution of $1.00

Maryland's population is 5,773,552, yielding a per capita contribution of $1.42

California's population is 37,253,956, yielding a per capita contribution of $1.55

Texas's population is 25,145,561, yielding a per capita contribution $1.31

New York's population is 19,378,102, yielding a per capita contribution of $2.31

Wyoming's population is 563,626, yielding a per capita contribution of $3.73

So, while I support voting rights for the district, I have to argue, that on a per capita basis we have a much higher federal expenditure than any of the 50 states. I would assume that the other territories might have a larger per capita contribution, but I don't have quick access to their budget data.

by Spencer on Jul 5, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

Spencer is on the right trail. Adam glossed over a significant part of the story.

For example,

The 250 million a year the feds spend paying for the District of Columbia Court system was not included in there.

I am all for voting rights, but trying to minimize how much time the District spends at the federal teet isn't fair either.

by freely on Jul 5, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

@Spencer-and in those states what proportion of all local police and fire and infrastructure maintainance is provided to the federal government? Perhaps proportional support of the federal government in the form of these services is greater in DC than in any of those states.

by Tina on Jul 5, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

@Tina,

Granted, the MPD has quite a bit of escort/security duty to provide. However, it and DC's other responsibilities to the Federal government pale in comparison to the amount of money the feds spend here in relation to anywhere else. When you look at federal expenditures per capita, which is really the only fair way to look at it, we see that:

1. DC receives $65,100 per capita from the feds, ranking number 1 in the nation and getting 450% more per capita than number 2, Alaska.

As Spencer indicated, DC gets 5 dollars from the feds for every dollar we contribute, the highest in the nation.

http://www.visualeconomics.com/united-states-federal-tax-dollars/

by freely on Jul 5, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

I would be really interested to see how this breaks down on a municipality level.

How do we compare to New York (for all their security expense) or Philadelphia (for all their national parks) for example?

by Spencer on Jul 5, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

@freely -but to really make a comparison we must know how much per capita it costs local services to serve the federal government. Its not just police and fire-its infrastructure too.

@Spencer -Do you think Philly has more federal land/sites than DC?

by Tina on Jul 5, 2011 4:06 pm • linkreport

Tina,

Ok, look at it this way. DC ranks first with 65K per capita.

Thats 51K a year MORE than the runner up, Alaska who gets 14K per capita.

The differnece of 51K per person for the districts 600K people comes out to a whopping ~31 billion a year.

Now, some of that pays for things that the feds pay for in all states, like some healthcare and welfare assistance, road construction etc, but DC's local budget is only ~6 billion this year total, so even if all the infrastructure and all the fire/police monies spent in the District were because of the feds, it would pale in comparison to the sheer volume of federal money that DC receives on a per capita basis.

Heck, even if the entire DC budget was somehow relatable to the Feds, it would only be 20% of what they spend here every year total per capita.

by freely on Jul 5, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

Of course, how many states/districts have a population that jumps to over a million during the daytime on a workday? That works out to $3 pp, less than Wyoming, close to Mississippi, etc...

by NikolasM on Jul 5, 2011 4:22 pm • linkreport

@Freely & Spencer

I don't know if the Census Bureau specifically included those funds you cited for the operation of the court system, etc. However, the 2008 DC budget summary showed about $2 billion in federal revenue out of $9.9 billion total. The Census Bureau calculated $3 billion in federal funds out of $11.8 in revenues. I assumed that the researchers had therefore properly included those miscellaneous revenues and that such a methodology was held consistent across all their calculations.

As for the federal spending per capita, those numbers are very prone to errors without knowing the methodology and what was included as federal spending. Do they, as other reports have done in the past, include as "federal spending" the local dollars that are re-appropriated back to the District by Congress as part of our weird budget process? In addition, one would naturally expect that spending in the capital is highest given the sheer number of federal agencies. That does not, however, directly translate into any type direct support to D.C. residents as is often accused. If anything, it benefits Maryland and Virginia to an equal if not greater extent given the number of residents from those states who work in the District and take those federal dollars home.

It's for that reason that I found the percentage of federal dollars in comparison to total state and local revenue so interesting. Rep. Issa made a very specific statement about the percentage of "federal taxpayer" funding of our local government (as if DC residents aren't federal taxpayers). No matter how you slice it, his statement just happens to be false.

by Adam L on Jul 5, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

What @Tina said. Unless we know the extent to which services are provided, and to whom, "per capita" is meaningless.

by oboe on Jul 5, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

A few points:

The federal monies to DC are, in part, meant to offset the fact that DC is prohibited from taxing non-resident workers. In addition, DC cannot tax the various federal properties. That's a lot of property that doesn't pay property tax. There's a huge amount of revenue that the District cannot collect, because Congress won't allow it.

DC provides a level of security, through it's own police department, to the federal government that no other locality does. The federal government pays for that--and you'll find that most agree that what the Feds do pay for does not cover the entire cost.

Regarding the Courts, DC spends far more on its drug court than any other municipality in the country. And it was the Federal Government who made the decision to do that, not DC.

by Birdie on Jul 5, 2011 4:45 pm • linkreport

@freely, I'm not quite sure I understand the numbers you are quoting and how they relate to this discussion.

First, the original post and your linked website are talking about two totally different things. The OP and the census data quoted are referencing federal contributions as a share of state revenue. For DC, that is just under $5,000 per capita (Spencer's calcs are in thousands). Your figure of $65,100 is each state's allotment of tax revenue, but it is not clear from your link what exactly that figure includes. Clearly it is not the same thing as the OP.

Secondly, your link has a slight error. Virginia is runner up with an allotment of $16,610, and Alaska is third (followed closely by Maryland and New Mexico). The concentration of federal activity in these top-five states leads me to believe that "allotments" as used by your link probably include the funding of federal activities within that state, so naturally DC will be an outlier. And by the way, Virginia's total allotment is $133 billion, which dwarfs the DC allotment of $39 billion. (Again, this doesn't mean that this "allotment" is going directly into the state's coffers.)

Finally, I'm not sure where you are getting your "$6 billion" figure for the DC budget. The Census Bureau data in the OP clearly puts it at $11.8 billion.

by BenZ on Jul 5, 2011 5:01 pm • linkreport

Some more context to rebut the strawman argument presented in this article.

Issa's full statement was: "Even after the Home Rule Act, the federal government still has significant responsibilities and federal taxpayer dollars fund a large portion of the District’s budget."

Issa made that statement March 17 when announcing his House Committee was holding a hearing on the allegations of corruption made by Sulaimon Brown.

There is nothing in Issa's statement that is false or objectionable.

1. The federal gov't, even after the delegation of some limited autonomy to the District government in the Home Rule Act, still has ultimate constitutional oversight over all of the District's affairs. Congress could, if it desired, vote to abolish the District government and replace it with an appointed Mayor and Council, a set of Commissioners, or a Ouija Board.

2. The federal gov't does provide a "large portion" of the District's budget, since most people would agree that a quarter of a budget coming from a single source is a "large portion." Perhaps one can quibble with the word "large". But even if instead of "large", Issa used "significant", he'd still be factually correct.

I get that the ultimate point of this posting is the usual self-righteous indignation of how dare Congress intervene in the District's affairs. And that it quotes, rather selectively, a part of Issa's statement - without giving any context in which it was made - to build a mountain out of a factually correct molehile.

But, ultimately, the solution to preventing Congressional intervention in District affairs isn't nifty charts or a discussion of the finer points of per capita measurements. It's District autonomy. And, in the same way that District residents finally got to vote for presidential candidates, that can only be done via Constitutional amendment.

It's fine and dandy to calculate exactly how much the District gets from the Feds (although Eleanor Holmes Norton, in her press release response to Issa's press release, puts the number at around 2 percent, not 25%). But that's a strawman argument, as Issa's complete statement shows - his justification for involvement is the Constitution first, the federal spending second.

Arguing about the "fairness" of Congress intervening in DC, but not in states that get more federal funding is utterly irrelevant: the District is not a state, but a constitutionally-created federal enclave with ultimate and complete jurisdiction by Congress.

If you'd rather not have Issa and other members of Congress intervening in District affairs, then amend the Constitution to change the District's status from federal enclave to an actual state.

by Fritz on Jul 5, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport

@Tina - I don't think that Philly has more federal land than DC, its just the city I could think of that has a large number of national parks within the municipality.

I apologies that I didn't indicate the dollar amounts in my firs post were in the thousands.

Personal opinion on voting rights and fairness aside, i just don't think its right to pretend that DC doesn't get a relatively large federal subsidy compared to other states. That's not to say its not an earned subsidy (because of the commuter and land tax issues brought up elsewhere), its just that downplaying the number doesn't do anyone any good and instead makes the argument look foolish.

by Spencer on Jul 5, 2011 6:21 pm • linkreport

@Fritz

While statehood may be the end goal, there are many incremental steps, such as local budget autonomy, that Congress can and should do because its the right thing to do. That will not happen unless you can appeal to others' sense of justice.

Rep. Issa could have left his statement as just "Congress has the right to tell D.C. residents how to run their own government and spend their own money, so I'm going to." But even he understands that such statements (especially from those who profess to believe in limited government) reek with injustice. As such, Rep. Issa and others opposed to DC autonomy have to append their arguments with additional excuses to justify their actions.

In this case, he very much alludes to the widely-held belief the federal government pays for everything. He didn't say it in so many words, but that is absolutely the connotation. If the feds pay for everything, then people's sense of justice is appeased. And that is why it is so important to call these people out.

by Adam L on Jul 5, 2011 6:26 pm • linkreport

@Spencer-but without explaining why DC gets a disproportionately large federal payment is misleading. It's like if someone said, " 'a-generous' company pays you x", without clarifying that you work for 'a-generous' company and the money they pay you is compensation for what you do for them. Yes DC gets a relatively large federal subsidy compared to other states, but proportionally DC provides more to the Federal gov than other states do, thus it follows the payment is proportionally bigger - even, as Birdie suggests, you'll find that most agree that what the Feds do pay for does not cover the entire cost.

by Tina on Jul 5, 2011 6:33 pm • linkreport

@Tina - that's true, and as i stated in my last follow up, the large per capita rate is for a good reason. But the original poster was trying to argue that DC does not have THAT large of a federal supplement by arguing that it was proportionately surpassed or equal to 8 other states in federal spending. This is a dirty statistical trick to make numbers "lie".

DC gets more money per person than any state in the union, and rightly so. To argue that our budget is only 25% supplemented by the federal government is akin to arguing that our federal subsidy is larger than 14 states or less than 36 other states. Its a meaningless fact because it has no context. Its as bad as stating that an H1 Hummer is smaller than a 2010 Suburban because it is only 184in long compared to 222.4 in long. Without the rest of the data (width, height) that number is meaningless for this specific comparison.

by Spencer on Jul 5, 2011 7:01 pm • linkreport

@Fritz - "[T]he solution to preventing Congressional intervention in District affairs isn't nifty charts or a discussion of the finer points of per capita measurements. It's District autonomy. . . . If you'd rather not have Issa and other members of Congress intervening in District affairs, then amend the Constitution to change the District's status from federal enclave to an actual state."

The use of [nifty] charts and discussing finer points of reason are for the exact purpose of building support for an amendment to the constitution (or another avenue such as ceding most of DC back to Maryland) that will give DC more autonomy. For the purpose of starting a dialogue as opposed to just accepting the anti-statehood argument spewed ad nauseum: "DC should not have Congressional representation because the Constitution says so".

by 7r3y3r on Jul 5, 2011 9:05 pm • linkreport

I think these figures include federal employee salaries paid in the state/DC as federal money that DC gets. Can anyone confirm or deny that?

It may also include the DC form of PILOT, public utilities paid by agencies, streets and other infrastructure built by federal agencies but used mainly locally (Constitution Avenue, Dupont Circle, etc.), and other things.

by Tim on Jul 5, 2011 10:12 pm • linkreport

@Fritz But, ultimately, the solution to preventing Congressional intervention in District affairs isn't nifty charts or a discussion of the finer points of per capita measurements. It's District autonomy. in the same way that District residents finally got to vote for presidential candidates, that can only be done via Constitutional amendment.

Actually, that's wrong. Congress can choose to give us autonomy - they could not choose that about Electoral College votes. The two are different. We can get autonomy without an amendment.

Spencer To argue that our budget is only 25% supplemented by the federal government is akin to arguing that our federal subsidy is larger than 14 states or less than 36 other states. Its a meaningless fact because it has no context.

It does have context. The people of DC pay for 75% of their own government. That's a larger percentage than 4 states. So, the idea that we're freeloading - which is what many people think - is wrong.

Per capita subsidy isn't the right value to consider. DC pays more per capita for its government than most states do. That's because DC is 100% urban and everything in DC costs more. Labor costs more in DC than in does in Wyoming - driving up the cost of everything. But, we pay our fair share, just like everyone else.

In light of this, Issa's statement that "federal taxpayer dollars fund a large portion of the District’s budget" is completely irrelevant, and that's the point. Fritz even acknowleges that's irrelevant. What's relevant is the that the Constitution gives Congress the power to interfere. And so they do. But they don't have to. Still, the do. That should strike most people, and ESPECIALLY the "government that governs least governs best" Republicans, as wrong.

by David C on Jul 5, 2011 10:16 pm • linkreport

@David C +1

by Tim H on Jul 5, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

@David C: Congress can give the District greater autonomy. Or Congress can directly govern the District as it used to. Either way, it's up to Congress to decide how it would want to proceed, because that's what the Constitution provides for. (I could also point out that it's not a stretch to argue that the District government hardly governs either best or least, but I digress.)

Likewise, both you and AdamL are confusing what federalism actually is. It's the "limited government" concept you accuse Republicans of hypocrisy because they support it for states, but not for the District.

But there's no hypocrisy there, just ignorance of the Constitution and American history.

Federalism deals with the relationship between the sovereign states and the federal government. It's part of the compact of the Constitution and why the 10th Amendment exists (and why it's cited so often by Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and the current Tea Partiers).

But federalism has no applicability to the District of Columbia for the rather basic reason that the District is not a state.

And arguing that Congress should give DC greater autonomy "because it's the right thing to do" is hardly a winning argument. Indeed, various governments, companies, and individuals should do all sorts of things "because it's the right thing to do." But that's neither a legal requirement, nor a constitutional guarantee.

by Fritz on Jul 6, 2011 8:55 am • linkreport

@Fritz

There might not be Republican hipocrisy in terms of autonomy for DC, but there sure is when it comes to congressional representation - a separate, but related issue.

by Alex B. on Jul 6, 2011 9:00 am • linkreport

The per-capita spending number of $65,000 is a bogus number to use when comparing to other states. That number does not measure a direct subsidy, only how much the government spends in total in each state.

It's a no-brainer that the government spends way more in DC than in other states - it's where the government is located! When you do the math out, $65K times 600K DC residents is $39 BILLION. That's not a subsidy that the government is giving to DC, it's the cost of operating the US government that exists within DC.

by MLD on Jul 6, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

In a general obeservation, why are the states with the most conservative Reps. and Senators, receiving the highest proportion of Federal funding. Hypocrits is a good word to start with; their actual lies and attempts to villify the "enemy" states in the northeast also apply.
How does Senator McConnell justify Kentucky at 24% from Fedral funds? Must be all the farm subsidies and other pork he directs to his state.

by DJP on Jul 6, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

Congress can give the District greater autonomy. Or Congress can directly govern the District as it used to. Either way, it's up to Congress to decide how it would want to proceed, because that's what the Constitution provides for.

Exactly. And I'm arguing that they should do the former and not the later. The Constitution gives Congress the power. But choosing to use it makes them dicks (and that goes for Obama here too).

Republicans often talk about getting Congress out of local affairs. They don't qualify it by saying "except for DC, where we need meddle more." If they did, I would rescind my claim of hypocrisy. Until then, I'll the Economist speak for me on this.

by David C on Jul 6, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

A lot of great threads in this discussion. Especially important is the pressure for all kinds of services on DC because it's the capitol AND because so much real property (federally owned land, embassies, etc.) are off the property tax rolls. Maybe the "final" tally of federal support for DC should include a deduction of what we lose in property tax revenues + the greater cost of being the capitol from what the feds actually appropriate for DC.

by MikeS. on Jul 6, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

Thanks for sharing this information; its very important to have facts like this on hand when discussing the importance of equality and full democracy in DC.

by Leah on Jul 6, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

Most people aren't aware of this.

But the Distirct had home rule in the later part of the 19th Century. I think it was then. I did not experience it first hand! BUt my memory is not what it used to be.

Well, the Home rule folks, drove the city bankrupt, and the Federal Government had to step in, bail the City out, and put it on a short lease. The lease is now a *lot* longer than it was when I first moved south of the Mason Dixon Line.

Maybe with good behaviour is can be lenghtened.

by Old Geezer on Jul 6, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Also, the federal enclave mentioned in the consitution consisted of a 10 mile square tract. MOst of it was donated by the State of Maryland, the rest by the Commonweath of Virginia. At some point, the federal government decided that it didn't need the Virignia poriton as prt of the enclve and gave it back.

Rather than give the District more home rule, the proper response (or a MORE proper response) would be to give it (or most of it) back to Maryland.

If Maryland where to accept it back, that is.

by Old Geezer on Jul 6, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

Funny, the federal government had to bail out NYC in 1975, but they didn't demand that NYC submit it's budgets and laws to Congress for approval.

by David C on Jul 6, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

The tragic flaw with your comparison of DC vs. MS, LA, SD, and NM is that the other states receive massive federal funding to help them recover from natural disasters, i.e. hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzard. DC is receiving funding for "normal" operations and budget expenditures. It's not a fair comparison.

by Res nolunt diu male administrari on Jul 6, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

@Res n.d.m.a.-and every "norma" year DC hosts multiple gatherings of 10's of thousands to 100's of thousands of people on the mall that requires local services and infrastructure to make happen that serves the nation's interests.

by Tina on Jul 6, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

The reason that DC was created was to prevent the Federal Government from becoming a captive to any of the individual states. Arguing that the Federal Government "owes" DC property tax turns the point of DC on it's head which was to create a situation where this did not happen. Furthermore annexing DC into Maryland creates an even bigger captive for the Federal Government than Virginia + Maryland is turning out to be.

A more logically consistent platform would be to forcibly remove any district residents that do not formally work for the federal government and require that all regional Federal workers reside in the district. This was the point of creating the district in the first place.

by History on Jul 6, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

A more logically consistent platform would be to forcibly remove any district residents...

Ha ha, yes, you know it's a platform is "logically consistent" when it involves hundreds of thousands of people being evicted from their homes at gunpoint!

by jfruh on Jul 6, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

History, the District was created so that Congress would have it's own military and police force. In NYC when they asked for protection from a mob, they were told to jump in a lake. The only military at the time were state militia.

That is no longer the case. Congress need not worry that the military or Capital Police will be unable to protect them. Even if DC were to become it's own state. DC is an anachronism and one that should be corrected.

One question: Is it fair that citizens of DC should be relegated to second-class status? [This is not the same as "is it legal"]. And if so, why?

by David C on Jul 6, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

Old Geezer…the blogs were educational and analogies of most Tina, Freely, Spencer and Fritz were right on target – the stats don’t mean a thing.

HOWEVER, OLD GEEZER…you came with this Wash. Post, FBI and Virginia and Maryland outsider’s propaganda about the Home Rule Folks driving this city into bankruptcy.

“..Tell me what you KNOW- not what someone TOLD YOU…!. You need to delve into community meetings [Civic Association or ANC meetings] and communicate with the born and raised Washingtonians and STOP SPREADING THIS …WILLIE HORTON propaganda of D.C. bankruptcy by Marion Barry [Home Rule] folks.

Before Home Rule…Congress supported the Three Commissioner governing body. Before the three Commissioners there was Congress appointed Boss Sheppard. Boss Sheppard did more wrong and corruption in this city than any Third World Government in this century.

Secondly, during the Three Commissioner rule of the District sprung the Federal City Council that encourage the Congress to allow it to make physical and esthetic improvement of the improvised, Ghetto, dirty looking District of Columbia.

Most importantly, the second generation of City Council members [Chairman David Clark, a Howard U. graduate and a Caucasian, Wilhelmina Rolark, John Wilson, Frank Smith, Nadine Winter, Hilda Mason, and other civil rights hold-overs from the March on Washington] made it possible FOR:

1) the FIRST TIME for Black residents to have participation in the District Government.
2) Black residents to be promoted to management positions –above DS – 8/9
3) equal funding of all schools in the District.
4) MORE D.C. “Black” residents acquired D.C. Government positions.

Old Geezer…you don’t know who Congress was in those years. Dixiecrats ruled D.C.; you don’t even remember Virginia Congressman Stan Parris who had D.C. on strings.

Now, Marion Barry was first to appoint a largely entire African American administration – D.C. first Black Fire Chief and Police Chief, Department Heads and the City Administrator were African-Americans. Barry brought Black businessmen/women to the city financial table and contracts were awarded to African-American Business – yes, the established big business continue to get contracts, etc. but this was reduced by the participation of African-Americans.

Congress and Marion Barry did not dance to an agreed upon TUNE…so Congress wanted more control of Barry and the Government finance.

“ …Congress caused the deficit/ bankruptcy by withholding the funds for “STATE” owed INSTITUSION COST – withheld funds for the D.C. Court System, Prison System and D.C. Retirement Fund. This withholding of funds by the U.S. Congress but D.C. in a deficit…not the alleged mismanagement of spending by Marion Barry [his mismanagement could not have caused this greater deficit created by the Congress].

Barry refused to imposed [rather the City Council fought against] raising property taxes, sales tax and other taxes on fixed, low income residents of the District…to fix the deficit. And, a game of “who will flinch first” pursued between Congress and Barry.

(However, Mayor Wms. only mechanism to get the Financial Control Board out was for several years of exponentially increasing the property taxes of most African American homeowners).

During the Financial Control Board Years - Ward 2 and Ward 3 homeowners experienced no or low property tax increase of their homes – thanks to the only effective and hard working Councilmember who looks out for his constituents – JACK EVANS.

A) See Washington Post, Metro, Saturday, July 31, 2004 – “..D.C. Tax Relief Inequitable, Study Says; Private Group Finds Wealthiest Wards Will Benefit More Than Poor Areas.

B) See Washington Post, Metro, Wednesday, September 28, 2005; “…JUDGE Voids Some 2002 D.C. Assessments; Tax Burden Called Unfair;

So Old Geezer; until you can do research on your own or talk to those D.C. residents who have knowledge and experience with D.C. Government stop parroting what you read in the Wash.Post and hear from the media…especially when it deals with the taking down elected officials – Black or White elected officials.

Trusting Citizens…Wake Up.

Calvin H. Gurley

by Calvin Gurley on Jul 6, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

What @birdie said. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I wonder how much in property taxes DC could collect if it could charge the embassies and the federal gov't for the wear and tear on roads, sewers and water, and other infrastructure. Isn't 40 percent of DC's property untaxable because it belongs to feds and international governments and agencies?

by lou on Jul 6, 2011 4:05 pm • linkreport

Response to Old Geezer:

Your memory is as you said not what it used to be. In 1874, Congress totally dissolved any local say in how the District of Columbia was run. For the next 100 years, D.C. was ruled by Federal appointees, mostly 3 Presidentially appointed commissioners and then a revised form of presidentially appointed government created by Pres. Johnson. So, during the latter part of the 19th century, D.C. residents had NO local control.

From 1871 to 1874 we were a territory with a presidentially appointed governor, a bicameral legislature with the upper house presidentially appointed and the lower house locally elected. All public works (which is basically where the overspending took place) was controlled by a Federal agency, the Board of Public Works, whose head was Presidentially appointed.

The overspending took place in large part because the population of the city increased from about 75,000 in 1860 to 132,000 in 1870 but little public improvements had taken place during wartime. Instead, Washington was really a garrison town with many public buildings being taken over for the Union army and roads and other public improvements being chewed up by the thousands of soldiers quartered here.In addition, Congress had been very parsimonious about funding public improvements for D.C. for decades, so after the war there was a need for masive spending to improve water and sewer facilities, grade roads, repair public structures, etc. There were Congressional hearings about the District government in 1874 that resulted in stripping D.C. voters of any rights and imposing full federal control. Much of this was done at the instigation of the white business class and is part of our nation's lone sorry history of slavery and racial discrimination. The issue of race is very closely tied to the tragic history of Congress's disenfranchisement of the District of Columbia.

To fully understand what happened in the mid 19th century, I would urge readers to read Prof. Kate Masur's new book, "An Example for All the Land - Emancipation and The Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C." The real story is very different from the myth that we are commonly taught and Old Geezer remembers.

by Last Colonist on Jul 8, 2011 7:32 pm • linkreport

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