Just as I pushed the Publish button for my posting on DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s views on tax increases, I learned belatedly that Mayor Gray probably shares them.
Patrick Madden at WAMU reports that the mayor said last Monday that he doesn’t “envision” any increase in either property or income taxes. Nor sales taxes, for that matter.
There are other options for revenue raising, he said, but “across the board tax increases — I don’t envision anything like that.”
There are indeed other options. No one, to my knowledge, ever said that property and/or income tax increases should be the only options on the table.
We’ve heard talk again about raising commercial parking fees — a good way to rake in a relatively small amount from visitors and commuters.
The just-released Fair Budget Coalition report for Fiscal Year 2012 recommends two others — a doubling of the District’s hospital bed tax and ending, at long last, the anomalous tax exemption for on out-of-state bonds.
But, I hasten to add, these would be in addition to at least one new top tax bracket for high-income households. Such a reform would not, of course, be an “across the board” increase, though the mayor apparently thinks otherwise.
Nor would an expansion of the sales tax to include theater tickets and services like pet grooming and yoga classes. I stubbornly still believe that this could be part of a sensible solution.
At any rate, the real issue isn’t whether next year’s budget includes any revenue raisers. It’s their structure and the balance between the projected revenues raised and the savings purportedly achieved by spending cuts.
Even former Mayor “No Tax Increases” Fenty put some fee increases into his proposed budgets, plus freezes on several broad-based tax benefits. Virtually all these revenue raisers would have affected low-income residents the most.
And those adopted didn’t raise nearly enough to allow for even level funding of programs and services that meet vital human needs.
The Fair Budget Coalition has singled out just seven that it says make up “the bare minimum of a safety net” and, at the same time, enable those who can to move toward economic self-sufficiency.
Seems to me that protecting these is the very least we can do. And by protecting, I mean ensuring they’ve got enough funds to do what they’re supposed to.