Mayor Muriel Bowser's Proposed Budget: the good, the bad and the ugly

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Speaking on behalf of the DC Statehood Green Party in a radio interview with WPFW's David Rabin on Tuesday, April 18, Legislative Director David Schwartzman strongly criticized District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser's proposed FY 2018 budget. DC Statehood Greens are calling on Mayor Bowser and the City Council to implement budget reforms that are both progressive and forward-looking.

Speaking on WPFW's Community Watch & Comment, David Schwartzman urged community activists and concerned citizens to step forward and demand that the City Council and the Office of the Mayor deliver a 2018 budget that is more responsive to the needs of the citizens of the District of Columbia. In the interview, Schwartzman outlined the legislative priorities of the DC Statehood Green Party and its demands.  

In January, the DC Statehood Green Party, in cooperation with the Fair Budget Coalition, letter sent to the Mayor Bowser and the DC Council demanding the withdrawal of all subsidies and abatements from developers and corporations doing business in the District who are not complying with local hiring and affordable housing requirements or wage and other labor law as well as the elimination of District subsidies for housing providers and property owners who operate housing units with substandard or unlawful living conditions.

DC Statehood Greens are also calling for tax increases on developers building luxury and high-end condominiums and raising taxes on wealthy individuals and families, particularly those whose federal income tax rates may be lowered in the next federal budget. Because a Trump/Ryan federal income tax cut giveaway is very likely for wealthy residents, states could hike their own income tax rate for the same residents leaving them paying the same overall amount in taxes (federal plus state), but generating badly needed revenue. Using this approach, DC would benefit from an additional $300 million a year in revenue.

Currently, DC Millionaires now pay a lower overall DC tax rate (6.4%) than all but the poorest residents, with families earning $50K a year paying the highest (10.3%), a pattern that will continue if 2014 tax legislation is not revised. 

The Good

  • Tax cut for the working class, especially the near poor, $60 million (raising the standard deduction/personal exemption to near federal levels)
  • TANF support extended past 60 month limit, guaranteed for children, but still insufficient

The Bad

  • Tax cut for the wealthy (estate threshold raised to federal level) $12 million
  • Tax cut for business (reducing the business franchise tax) $28 million Total: $40 million + recurring regressive tax cuts from previous triggers ($59 million) = $99 million

The Ugly

No funding for:

  • Repair public housing (FBC: $25 million)
  • Ban the Box implementation (FBC: $470,000)
  • Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act (FBC: $7.7 million)
  • Affordable Childcare (expanded slots, but market rate)
  • Paid Family Leave startup (FBC: $20 million)

Even Uglier

  • All triggers implemented from 2014 legislation: DC taxes for families remain regressive from $50,000 (10% of income) to above, with millionaires paying 6% of their income)
  • No cushion from potential cuts in federal funding TANF income support will be one-third of the federal poverty level, with one half of Ward 8 children bearing the burden of poverty

Progressive Remedies Include:

  • Hike DC income tax rate for wealthy residents (supported by FBC), at minimum $150 million/year, even higher with federal income tax cut FBC: Withdraw all subsidies/abatements from developers/corporations not complying with local hiring, affordable housing regulations or wage/labor laws;
  • Eliminate subsidies for housing providers/property owners [who operate housing units] with substandard, unlawful living conditions;
  • End land giveaways and enforce affordable housing regulations on land sold/leased at discounted price; Increase taxes on developers building high end and luxury condos;
  • Reconsider subsidized development projects that do not meet basic resident needs!
  • Hike the tax rate on multi-state and multi-national corporations.

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