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Gray predicts $350-$400 million shortfall

Washington Post Editors

D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D), the presumptive mayor, predicted today that he and the other council members will have to close a $350 million to $400 million shortfall before they approve the fiscal 2012 budget next year.

Gray's prediction, on top of the $175 million gap in the existing year's budget, is likely to renew talk of massive spending cuts or higher taxes.

On Monday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) issued a hiring freeze and announced that many agencies will have to cut parts of their budget by about 10 percent to try to prevent the shortfall from worsening. On Tuesday, the council voted to impose similar reductions in its budget and that of independent executive branch agencies that receive local funds.

But Gray stressed to his colleagues that difficult choices will have to be made in the coming weeks. The more they cut from the budget this year, Gray said, the less difficulty they face next year when they agree on a fiscal 2012 spending plan.

"It will certainly make it easier if you make the decisions in (fiscal) 11," Gray said. "It will also help (fiscal) 13 and 14."

Gray is refusing to rule out layoffs or a tax increase. He will become mayor in January if he wins the Nov. 2 general election. In the coming days, he may have to decide whether he prefers to raise taxes or pursue layoffs this year, while he's chairman, or whether he wants to wait until next year as mayor.

When a reporter asked Gray whether it would be smarter politically to pursue a tax hike as chairman or mayor, he replied, "that depends on whether I want to raise taxes at all."

"My first choice is I want to look at expenditures," Gray said.

-- Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  | October 5, 2010; 6:02 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election, Budget, City Finances, D.C. Council, Mayor Fenty, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray  
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Next: Gray's use of schools for forums raises concern


Dear Mayor Fenty,

Thanks for making the 'tough choices'. It's too bad you didn't really make them.

Posted by: LukasWP | October 5, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Dear Chairman Gray,

Thanks for your leadership on the Council budget approval process. It's too bad you didn't show any fiscal leadership in owning the budget approval process year after year, budget after budget.

Posted by: jmc39 | October 5, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

jmc39 wrote: "Thanks for your leadership on the Council budget approval process"

Yes, Chairman Gray did oversee the formulation of the budget. However, there are two aspects that he is not in control of 1) Overspending of the approved budget and 2) Revenue projections. While Fenty's solution was to draw upon reserve funds to avoid making tough decisions (other than spend more money); Chairman Gray has demonstrated fiscal disciplines.

You probably blame Obama for starting the Wars in Iraq and Afganistan, too.

Posted by: KwameFan | October 5, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Dear Gray,

Thanks for flip floppin on the street cars and costing the city 50 million.

Posted by: WP123456 | October 6, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Vince Gray knows he can help to address the budget problem by pulling up his socks and dealing in the schools arena with: continued attempts by the "union" to exact even greater compensation, e.g., for an extended school day, the lawyer-led grabbing of even more money for sped, and the desperate need to close about 20 more schools. We have way too many schools; these neighborhood conveniences are outweighed by extremely high facilities cost. We have enough classrooms for a system almost twice as large as today's enrollment. That is ridiculous.

Posted by: axolotl | October 6, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

It's sad that DC has been under the hands of crooks for years and we DC resident's have to suffer..I bet their pockets, friends and family members are not feeling this, only us who can barely make it now..Wow move order mid to low income, only those making over a six figure salary can survive in DC....

Posted by: shadon1 | October 6, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Gray once again shows no leadership in telling the public how he intends to lead the city through several years of reduced revenue. Is it raise taxes or budget cuts? Could he say what he stands FOR before Nov. 2nd? Gray is waiting until January when he will disclose his position, which puts the voter in the gottacha position. There is no reason to vote for this man because you have no idea what he intends to do if elected.

Posted by: voter20 | October 6, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The division of the city continues...come on DC, we can do better than this back and forth. Seriously, blaming Gray alone? I blame both the Council and the Mayor. Part of our problem is overspending by agencies which is Fenty fault and the lack of cuts is both Fenty and the Council.

We can get nowhere w/the blame...and WP, really? The streetcars??? This shortfall has nothing to do w/the street cars. The problem w/the streetcars is that we have no plan for paying for them...the feds have all but pulled out and we have nothing. We have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to store the cars we havent even used...we need a plan not a bunch of whining! And Gray "flip floppin" on the street cars costs the city what Fenty wanted...Gray just had to find the money somewhere or cut $50 mill out of our existing budget. The money came out of the reserve fund, which I think was a bad idea. Depleting this fund for these projects is not the way to go. We all need to tighten our belts and if this means cutting "pet" projects such as the street cars and/or entitlement programs, we just have to do it.

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | October 6, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

In response to KwameFan, I do not blame Obama for starting the war in Iraq and Afganistan, but he did nonethless voted for those wars and holds some responsibility for past decisions. Anywayysd, expanding the scope of the argument to add non-directt metaphors is not the point at issue.

In a democracy, the legislature has the "power of the purse" so yes, the Chairman could have taken a different approach and sustained reserve or made other changes to the budget. The Chairman chose not to make "tough choices" or show leadership.

In response to DCJUSTICE: the division of the city continues because the Chairman ran a campaign on division not specific policy issues. And if the Chairman can blame the Mayor for unemployment east of the river, then the Chairman (and his supporters) should acknowledge Council's significant role in the budget process. That was the sole point of my reply to LukasWP's sarcastic remark.

Posted by: jmc39 | October 6, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

In response to DCJUSTICE: the division of the city continues because the Chairman ran a campaign on division not specific policy issues.
Posted by: jmc39 | October 6, 2010 11:03 AM
Pure Ignorance.

So the constant harping from the Fenty camp that those who don't support him were against crime, dog parks, gentrification and most importantly school reform was positive campaigning? Please

Even now, you PUMA's continue to soil the water by complaining about how the city is going back to the days of "those people" and accusing anyone who didn't think Fenty/Rhee were Godsends as the anti-.

Give it a rest! Hillary lost and so did Fenty.

Posted by: dcis1 | October 6, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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