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Afternoon Read: D.C. Council Considers Paying City Workers for Furloughs

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The D.C. Council will consider a proposed $68.7 million budget Tuesday evening for the remainder of the fiscal year that would repay city workers for furlough days taken in 2011.

According to The Washington Times, council Chairman Kwame Brown said the supplemental 2012 budget would include $22.4 million to compensate workers for all four unpaid holidays they took as part of budget cuts. The District saw unexpected revenue increases at the end of the year.

The plan to repay these workers has been controversial, as many see it as a gift to political unions that contribute to local politicians’ campaigns.

The proposed spending plan also repeals a controversial confusing tax on interest earned from out-of-state, the Times reports.

* Councilman Jim Graham said at a budget hearing Monday that he would no longer support Sunday liquor sales in D.C. but would instead propose to increase the excise tax on alcohol by six cents—a move that he said would generate $20 million.

The measure to allow liquor stores to open on Sundays was originally introduced to defeat Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposal to generate more city revenue by extending bar hours.

A press release issued by Graham argued that the tax had not been increased since 1990.

“But let me focus my opening statement on this very bad idea to extend the last call in our bars. Because I think of all the places that we could look to for $3.2 million, this ought to be among the last.”

“If we increased the excise tax so there would be an additional six cents per drink, we would gain $20 million for essential DC government programs.”

The D.C. Council is currently scrambling for ways to close a $172 million budget shortfall in 2013.

Read the Post’s article on the subject here.

* Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., announced Monday that he introduced legislation to create a permanent inspector general for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), according to Fairfax News.

Wolf said he has become increasingly concerned by some recent incidents with the board, including arguments over the location of the Metro station at the airport, labor disputes for Phase II of the Dulles metro project and members serving after their terms have expired.

The MWAA is overseeing the construction of the new silver Metro line that would go out to Dulles International Airport.

The transportation department is currently conducting an audit on MWAA, which Wolf requested in February.

* Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell raised $8.4 million in donations in the first 27 months of office, nearly the same amount as his predecessor, former Gov. Tim Kaine, raised at this same point during his term as governor.

The data is based on a news analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch broke down the numbers and reported that the top contributor to McDonnell’s Opportunity Virginia PAC is the energy industry, which donated $1.3 million.

The real estate and construction industries were not far behind with $1.2 million in donations.

Kaine had only $326,000 from energy interest groups, but, unlike McDonnell, received a large amount of money from organized labor.

The analysis shows that as of March 31, McDonnell had only about $300,000 left from the donations.

Nearly half of it has gone to supporting Republican campaigns statewide. He recently used some of the money to launch a TV ad series that touts Virginia’s economic success.

* Mitt Romney will be headed to Virginia Wednesday for a campaign event to talk about the economy.

The event is at 10:30 a.m. at Exhibit Edge in Chantilly, Va.

The Obama camp announced that it would officially launch its reelection campaign in Richmond, Va., May 5.

The Washington Post reported that Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley will step down from her position at the end of June. The 25-year veteran is the first woman to lead this agency in Maryland.

According to The Post, aides said Swaim-Staley surprised O’Malley with her decision late last week.

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