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Appleseed Report Calls on Incoming Obama Administration to Help the District Finances

Despite 11 consecutive balanced budgets and remarkable progress that city officials have made to be fiscally responsible, the District of Columbia still does not have a revenue base for it to become "a truly great city."

This is the conclusion of a report that will be released today by the D.C. Appleseed Foundation. The report will be released at a news conference this morning along with top city officials, including Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. The news conference is meant to call upon the upcoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to seek a permanent solution to the city's longtime budgetary imbalance.

The report states that "At a minimum, the District needs around $1 billion in additional annual operating budget to address the most basic infrastructure needs." The lawmakers at the news conference plan to discuss how the city might move forward.

In many respects the release has echoes of when President Bill Clinton was elected and worked closely with the District and U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Revitalization Act, which worked with the Control Board to help the city return to financial solvency.

Alice Rivlin, a former member of the control board and one of the authors of the report, writes in the document, "This small central city cannot carry that burden alone given is truncated tax powers, narrow tax base and heavy state and local responsibilities."

The city is asking for economic help at a time when the world economy is spiraling downward and U.S. corporations are turning to taxpayers for bailouts.

"It is time for the Federal Government to renew its partnership with the District and help make it the best capital city in the world," the report states. "The country deserves such a capital."

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  December 11, 2008; 8:52 AM ET
Categories:  City Finances  
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