By a 12 to 1 vote, the Council passed the FY 2015 Budget Support Act (BSA) on a second and final vote yesterday. The District’s budget and legislative process require two votes on most legislation. Yesterday’s vote follows the first approval, which took place on May 28. (A more extensive discussion of the budget process, and the content of the budget as approved on May 28 is available here.)
The legislation approved on second reading differed from the version passed earlier in two important ways:
- Responding to a concern raised by the District’s Chief Financial Officer, the significant package of tax reforms included in the earlier legislation will now be triggered based on revenue targets, rather than on a strict calendar basis as had originally been proposed.
- In the context of a funding matter surrounding the creation of an elected Attorney General for the District, the Council voted to create a new Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, and to have each District agency’s counsel report to the agency director rather than to the elected Attorney General. (The District’s first Attorney General election is now almost certain to occur in November due to the DC Court of Appeals declining yesterday to review an earlier court decision mandating that timeframe.)
Also proposed yesterday was an effort to eliminate one element of the legislation’s broader expansion of the 5.75% sales tax to a list of services recommended by former Mayor Anthony Williams’ Tax Revision Commission. The contested element involved a tax on gym and related fitness club memberships. The amendment to eliminate this tax failed 4 votes to 9.
Outside of the BSA deliberations, the Council passed on first reading a ban on Styrofoam boxes for food and cups for drinks. The ban would become effective in 2016. The proposed legislation will be sent to the Mayor only after a second vote, which will occur either on the Council’s final pre-recess legislative meeting on July 14, or after the recess.