My endorsement: Handling the budget right
By Robert D. Ebel
At first, balancing the budget was easy. Then came the recession. By July 2009, the District faced a $400 million revenue shortfall for 2009 and $878 million for 2010.
But what the city got from the mayor in July 2009 was a set of financial gimmicks — “one-time” plans for millions of dollars of “undesignated cuts.” When at the budget hearings, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray challenged Mayor Adrian Fenty to be specific, the mayor left it to his budget staff, which answered, “that’s a technical question.”
It’s very difficult stuff, balancing budgets. But with Gray’s leadership, the council has made the hard decisions. Much has been said that the political leadership in the District is not getting the “credit” it is due for a well-managed city. That’s not quite true: The credit is going to the right place — to Gray’s leadership.
A budget is more than a collection of dry tax law and economic data; it is an expression of community relationships — between individuals and between the people and their government. Vincent Gray understands and acts on that fundamental truth.
The writer served as the District’s deputy chief financial officer and chief economist from 2006 to 2009.
| September 3, 2010; 6:08 PM ET
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