Who should come first in the D.C. government’s list of priorities? Welfare recipients, city workers, undocumented immigrants, or out-of-state municipal bond holders?
Alas, the D.C. Council can’t decide. This afternoon, they voted themselves to a 6-6 deadlock on Mayor Vince Gray‘s supplemental budget for the current fiscal year that would have spent $22 million reimbursing city workers for four furlough days.
Prior to the vote, the councilmembers took turns accusing each other of having misplaced priorities.
Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange took Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans to task for caring too much about mostly wealthy District residents instead of city employees. They were referring to the numerous residents, who tend to be well off, who are upset that the city has started taxing dividends paid on out-of-state municipal bonds.
Evans tried unsuccessfully to tie a new sales tax on food trucks to an effort to abolish the muni bond tax. He also took great offense at Barry and Orange’s suggestion that he catered to the rich over hard workin’ city employees, saying he loves both children equally. (Not his actual words) In the end, Evans voted for the $22 million payout to city employees while Barry, for some reason as yet unknown to LL, did not.
At-Large Councilmember David Catania accused his colleagues of being members of the Tea Party for their refusal to go along with a compromise plan that would have reimbursed city employees for two furlough days while also funding health care for undocumented immigrants in D.C.
“I didn’t expect the Tea Party to come to Washington,” Catania said. “Frankly, I’m ashamed.”
And Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham told everyone to think of the children, as he has done several times in the past, before trying to get his colleagues to vote on shifting nearly $6 million of the furlough money for increased spending for welfare programs. Graham got a total of one vote, his own, for the effort.
The bigger story that’s still getting unpacked right now is the mayor’s inability to get seven votes on budget supplemental, something that shouldn’t be so hard given that we’re talking about spending extra money here, not making cuts.