Budget autonomy is critical to the District’s future—so critical, in fact, that we have taken the Mayor and CFO to court to fight for it.
The issue is clear: dollars that are raised locally should be allowed to be spent locally without the need for Congressional involvement (although Congress would retain decision-making on federal funds). The Council, the Mayor, and 83% of District voters are on record supporting this view.
On all but three occasions since 1990, Congress has approved the District’s budget after the fiscal year was already underway. This creates great difficulty and uncertainty in the District’s budgeting process, and increases short-term borrowing costs. Additionally, since our schools’ budget year is tied to that of Congress, we are forced to face the costly and illogical situation of having the all-important “back to school” season fall during the very last weeks of their shared fiscal year.
The issue may seem arcane, but it is essential that those in the District and beyond understand it. Provided below is a one-stop toolkit for understanding the issue of DC budget autonomy.
Lawsuit and Reference Material:
- DC Local Budget Autonomy Act
- Committee report on the Act
- Text of complaint (lawsuit against the Mayor and CFO)
- Budget Office one-pager on budget autonomy
“A Deeper Dive”
- DC Home Rule Act (Title IV of which is the District Charter)
- GAO Opinion Letter
- AG letter to DCBOEE regarding original ballot initiative
- DCBOEE ruling on admissibility of budget autonomy initiative
- Letter from the Mayor to the Chairman regarding budget autonomy
- Letter from the CFO to the Chairman regarding budget autonomy
- Antideficiency Act
- Budget and Accounting Act of 1921
- Amicus brief filed by Anthony Williams, Alice Rivlin, and Tom Davis
- Amicus brief filed by DC Vote, DC Appleseed, DC Fiscal Policy Institue, and the League of Women Voters