by Daniel Solomon
The Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012 will be on the April ballot as Proposed Charter Amendment VIII. The language on the ballot explains it all: “This Charter Amendment, if ratified, enacted and upheld, would permit the Council to adopt the annual local budget for the District of Columbia government; would permit the District to spend local funds in accordance with each Council approved budget act; and would permit the Council to establish the District’s fiscal year.”
Under the referendum, once the DC Council adopts our budget, the District will be free to start spending its own tax dollars, just like every other jurisdiction in the country. The referendum will permit the DC government to continue to operate, even if Congress shuts down the federal government. It will also move us one step closer to the democracy we so sorely need and deserve.
DC has adopted balanced budgets for the past 11 years. Our credit rating is great. Our major fiscal problem is waiting for Congress to act. No other locality in the country has to wait for Congressional approval to spend the money it raises and budgets. Every other locality can set its own fiscal year, and generally sets its spending law to match the school year. Hamstrung by Congress, DC has to borrow money and incur interest expenses, often in the millions of dollars, between adoption of its budget and approval by Congress.
While DC residents cannot yet elect U.S. Senators or a Representative, we can vote on April 23rd to take control of our own fiscal affairs. It is critical that DC residents vote YES on Proposed Charter Amendment VIII. We need an affirmative vote to pass the amendment. We need a strong vote to show Congress and the nation that we are serious about expanding our autonomy and our rights.
Forest Hills resident Daniel Solomon is a Board member of DC Vote.