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DC Statehood Greens challenge Mayor Gray: “Don’t balance the budget on the backs of DC’s working people and unemployed!”

DC Statehood Green Party activists will challenge Mayor Vincent Gray on the District’s budget priorities at a press conference immediately preceding the Mayor’s ‘State of the District’ address on Monday, March 28.

The press conference will take place outside of Eastern High School, 1700 East Capitol Street NE, beginning at 6 pm.  The Mayor’s speech begins inside the school at 6:45 pm.

“We will call on Mayor Gray not to balance the budget on the backs of DC’s working people and unemployed.  We can make ‘One City’ a reality, if the Mayor and Council enact a ‘Just DC Budget and Tax’ plan,” said Alan Page, DC Statehood Green Party candidate for At-Large City Council in the April 26 special election (http://alanpagedc.blogspot.com).

Statehood Greens will offer a progressive alternative to DC’s present regressive income tax.  The progressive plan would generate $250 million in additional revenue that should go into essential social services cut in recent years.  This and other recommendations to balance the budget and restore essential funding in our budget are summarized below.

“Our public officials continue to side with the wealthy, while DC residents are enduring an economic depression, with 30% unemployment in Ward 8.  More budget cuts in low income programs, totaling $30 million, including child care, affordable housing, and TANF were passed for FY 2011.  Even more cuts may be in store if the Mayor and Council fail to find new revenue.  In FY 2010, affordable housing was cut by one-third and child care by one fifth since FY 2008, according to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Unfortunately, the Council voted 8 to 5 to defeat bills for modestly higher taxes on the wealthy that would have prevented most of these cuts,” said Jane Zara, DC Statehood Green and lawyer who has fought the closing of local shelters.  

Eight Council members voted no to tax hikes on the rich (Mayor-Elect Gray, David Catania, Mary Cheh, Kwame Brown, Jack Evans, Phil Mendelson, Muriel Bowser, Yvette Alexander), five voted yes (Jim Graham, Harry Thomas Jr., Michael Brown, Tommy Wells, Marion Barry).  See David Schwartzman’s testimony on the Executive’s FY2011 Budget Gap-Closing Plan: http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org/sitemap/fentybudgetfy2011

“Where is the money?” Recommendations for a ‘Just DC Budget and Tax’ Plan

(1) Raise the income tax rate on DC’s top 5% income bracket, especially DC millionaires, whose income is now booming, and provide tax relief for low- and middle-income families.

According to this proposal, the effective increase for the top 5% income bracket would be about 1.7% of family income, or less than 2 cents on the dollar, while generating more than $250 million in additional revenue.  Statehood Greens say that this additional revenue should be targeted directly to currently underfunded programs for low-income DC residents.  See http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org/testimony/fairtax

(2) Curb corporate welfare, unjustified tax exemptions and abatements in the DC budget.  $350 million or more per year is potentially lost from this source; about $150 million/year is paid in rent to the corporate sector for municipal use when publicly owned property could be used for the same purposes in many cases.  $25 million would come from ending DC’s tax exemption for interest paid on out-of-state bonds

(3) Get Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) from the World Bank, IMF, and Fannie Mae.  The Mayor and Council should mount an aggressive public campaign to get hundreds of millions of dollars waiting to be collected from this source.

(4) Tax lobbyists and their law firms. Example: Patton Boggs (Jack Evan’s source of his second salary), with $332 million gross receipts in 2009.

(5) Establish a DC Municipal Bank, which could leverage billions of dollars in DC taxes and fees for local green economic development, living wage jobs, and affordable housing, instead of putting our money into Wall Street banks. See http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/campaign-for-state-owned-banks.

Scheduled speakers for the press conference

• Alan Page: DC Statehood Green candidate for At-Large City Council in the April 26 special election (http://alanpagedc.blogspot.com).  Mr. Page is an attorney and an artist who has provided legal advice to special needs students deprived of their rights by DC Public Schools.  He has led efforts to improve the lives of young people in DC, from serving as a songwriting instructor to youth from all over the city with the Midnight Forum organization to teaching a course on “Learning Literature Through Hip-Hop” with the Helping Inner City Kids Succeed program in Ward 7.

• David Schwartzman: 2010 DC Statehood Green candidate for the Council At-Large seat (http://www.davidschwartzman.com) and the party’s Tax & Budget Coordinator.

• Jane Zara: activist, scientist, lawyer, and a member of Coordinating Board of the Washington Peace Center, Empower DC, DC Metro Science for the People, and the DC Statehood Green Party.  She has litigated various lawsuits on behalf of the homeless in DC, opposing the closing of local shelters, and led science literacy campaigns involving local communities.


DC Statehood Green Party http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org

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