On Tuesday, the DC Council will vote on how we’ll close the District’s gaping budget gap.
Grappling with a budget deficit of $188 million, that could balloon up to $500 million in 2011, the Mayor and DC Council have put virtually all city services on the chopping block.
Human services, public safety, public education, health care, public works and the government workforce will be cut to the bone. What’s wrong with this picture?
Not a single tax increase is on the table. That’s not fair.
My wife and I have not been asked to pay one more dime to help balance the District’s budget — not now, and not even in the last four years. We enjoy improved city services, safer streets and the renaissance of H Street NE, Barracks Row, the Waterfront and our Ward 6 neighborhood schools. Yet, to meet this challenge, our city’s leaders have no plans to raise taxes for people who are most able to support a vibrant community. Instead, they imagine they can balance the budget by asking for sacrifices primarily from those DC citizens who are least able to afford them.
I understand that in this economy, budget cuts are unavoidable. But we’re all in this crisis together. If we are truly one city, then I believe that every citizen needs to step up.
That’s why I’m introducing a budget amendment to raise the DC income tax for citizens with the highest annual incomes. This modest increase would be graduated: ¼ of 1% for incomes of $75,000 to $150,000, ½ of 1% for incomes of $150,000 to $500,000, and 1% for incomes over $500,000.
Particularly for people who itemize their tax deductions, the cost would be minimal and partially offset by reduced federal taxes. For example, taxpayers with incomes of $75,000 would pay about $63 more for the year, those between $150,000 and $500,000 would pay between $188 to $1,938 more, and people with incomes around $1 million would pay an additional $6,938.
My proposal would raise $37 million in this fiscal year and $55 million in the next. Obviously, a tax increase can’t completely close the budget gap — nor should it — but it will help spread the cost of a devastating economy beyond our city’s most vulnerable citizens. These funds will help sustain a great city — one that makes us all proud.
Tommy Wells is the DC Councilmember for Ward 6.