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Gray: It feels like country is in a 'depression'

Responding to news the District is facing a budget shortfall of $175 million, presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) said it feels like the nation is in a "depression."

Gray's comment, made to about 200 business leaders gathered at the University of the District of Columbia, may not be the sort of message Democratic leaders are hoping to send in advance of the November midterm elections.

"People have been hesitant to call it a depression, but frankly the qualities and characteristics of it feel like a depression to me," Gray said at the UDC business forum.

On Monday, Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi told Gray, chairman of the D.C. Council, and outgoing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) they will have to work together to quickly close the shortfall in the fiscal year 2011 budget year that begins Friday.

Gandhi attributed the shortfall to overspending and a dip in sales and capital gains tax revenue. Since 2008, District leaders have been forced to make hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts and raise some taxes and fees to close several successive budget shortfalls.

Gandhi said the national economic woes are fueling the District's budget troubles, but added the local economy remains far stronger than many other parts of the country.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been stressing that the national economy is on rebounding, albeit slower than they had hoped.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said last week that recession technically ended in June 2009. The economic downturn never met the criteria for a depression.

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  | September 29, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Budget, City Finances, Tim Craig  
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Posted by: drfields | September 29, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

You ticket the crap out of people to the point they go somewhere else. Yeah--you may have 9 dollars but the taxes lost has been much more.

But Gray you are soon to be mayor you cant speak that way.

Posted by: CultureClub | September 29, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

The City Council gets the final crack at the budget and the last budget even Jack Evans said he would not vote for the budget as there were not enough cuts in it. Mary Cheh got $1.25 million to study traffic in two blocks in Cleveland Park. That was a waste of money along with $50,000 for Ward 3 businesses to think of something to do with the funds. This kind of waste has to stop and get back to necessities.

Posted by: voter20 | September 30, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Ok, Gray speak the truth to me, don't tell me lies and leave me hanging. Don't pee on my legs and tell me it's rain. The DC voters and gov't workers need to know the TRUTH! When issues seem not popular go with the truth, that's the problem now. DC is getting 4 years of truth serum now and some can't handle it right now (Write-in Fenty)!

Posted by: drfields | October 1, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

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