D.C. Budget: The People's Pitches
Readers have put some thought into how to close the city's budget gap for the 2010 fiscal year, submitting their suggestions through the budget game washingtonpost.com launched on Tuesday. Check out their suggestions below, then give it a try yourself. You can click the links below and view the "revenues" and "expenditures" tabs to see exactly what each reader did.
On the revenue side we are moving toward the concept of a "consumption tax" rather than an "income tax." By reducing income taxes and maintaining the current levels for property taxes, individuals, if they are frugal, will be minimally impacted by the increase in other taxes. On the expenditure side, everything about the District government is bloated. These budget cuts will force city managers and administrators to make their departments function more efficiently.
This budget proposal includes major increases in income taxes and other taxes and minor increases in property taxes and sales taxes. These revenue increases can be designed to be temporary and can be structured to have the largest impact on those with the greatest ability to pay additional taxes. This proposal includes a minor decrease in general government spending and a major decrease in economic development spending. The proposal does not reduce spending for education, public safety, social services or public works. Demand for social service and public safety spending increases during an economic downturn as poverty rises and the crime rate increases due to job losses. Maintaining spending on education and public works ensures that these core local government services remain functional during the downturn.
This is the time to invest in social services -- it's when people need them most. I would be impacted by the income and property tax increases, but I know that I can afford it more than the poorest in our neighborhoods. This is a time of shared sacrifice for the betterment of our communities.
I cut taxes overall across the board. D.C. residents pay so much in taxes, but get little in return. I put big budget cuts in education because D.C. spends too much for little results. I also put a major decrease in public works, because D.C. never cleans the streets anyway, and no one wants parking enforcement officers around.
Now's as good a time as any to make D.C. more livable. The one concession I made to greater taxation was the increase in sales tax to attempt to pull more money from the tourist trade.
I have increased sales and other taxes because they are not as direct and painful as the income/property ones. For expenditures, I've dabbled in the government section, where I've decreased spending to a minimum, also taking some funds from the social/public works/public safety budgets. I had thought of increasing property taxes to pay for some economical recovery measures, but I've decided to wait for a year and see the results of this first budget.
Government: Cuts all around. Sell those Nationals tickets online and limit internal fraud, and perhaps the surplus for next year will reach hundreds of millions. Just be sure you keep auditors who do their job. Public Safety: Hardest area to cut -- I propose no cuts. Imagine fewer operators to answer emergency calls. Scary!
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