Budget Autonomy Victory as Case Sent Back to Local Courts

In an important development for District rights, the US Court of Appeals issued a ruling that permits the Council to proceed with its plan for local budget autonomy for the District.

In an order issued  as the Council was meeting to vote on the FY 2015 budget, the Court of Appeals vacated a previous District Court decision that had deemed invalid the budget autonomy measure that 83% of District voters approved in an April 2013 referendum.  The Court of Appeals sent the case back to DC Superior Court for further proceedings.  Whereas the case originally pitted the Council against both then-Mayor Vincent Gray and the Chief Financial Officer, Muriel Bowser reviewed the legal arguments after her election as Mayor last year and concluded that the Council was correct, leaving the Chief Financial Officer as the sole defendant in the case.

Under the Budget Autonomy Act, there are a few procedural changes.  Whereas previous budget requests were voted on just once by the Council prior to being sent to Congress, autonomous budgets will instead be voted on twice (as the related Budget Support Act and all other District legislation already are).  In the coming days, then, the Council’s second vote on the District’s budget will signal tremendous progress in the District’s quest for control over its own finances.