The District has Budget Autonomy

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By C.N. Staff Writer

Last April, District voters overwhelming approved a ballot referendum to amend the District’s Home Rule Charter and finally claim budget autonomy. That means the city can spend its own local tax dollars without having to wait for Congress.

DC Vote representatives released a press release stating, “A new DC budget law that was initiated by a ballot referendum to amend DC’s home rule charter backed by 83 percent of District voters went into effect at midnight, January 1, 2014. The new law modifies the District’s budget process by allowing the District government to appropriate and spend local tax dollars, without having to wait for enactment of a federal DC spending bill.”

During the government shutdown of 2013 the D.C. government was able to stay open with its own money, although it did not receive federal approval. Considered an act of defiance, Mayor Vincent Gray led this charge to keep the government open, deeming all District workers as “essential.” Had the shutdown happened a year later, the D.C. government would’ve stayed open and it wouldn’t have been an act of defiance. That D.C. now has budget autonomy means it is one step closer to having the same rights as any state.

DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry said, “This is a milestone in our fight for self-determination that shows the power of the people still means something.” “The new law changes an illogical budget arrangement with Congress that allowed partisan battles at the federal level to prevent the District from spending local tax revenues on critical needs. Our elected D.C. leaders and residents deserve credit for moving to rescind this unjust process.”

The referendum won 83 percent support with D.C. voters last April, which is a huge margin. Unlike every other city and state in America, before the autonomy, the District could not budget and spend its locally-raised funds without approval from the President and Congress. All other local governments need and have the flexibility to spend locally raised dollars according to their local laws.

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