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Morning Read: Lieberman Joins Movement for DC Budget Autonomy

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Lieberman Joins Movement for DC Budget Autonomy

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Lieberman plans to introduce legislation that would end the relationship between the District’s budget and the congressional appropriations process.

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The movement to grant D.C. budget autonomy is gaining traction, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is the latest powerful figure joining the cause.

Lieberman plans to introduce legislation that would end the relationship between the District’s budget and the Congressional appropriations process, according to Roll Call.

Lieberman, an independent, joins Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) -- the chairman of the D.C.-focused Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- in his push for D.C. budget autonomy.

Roll Call reports that advocates for expanded D.C. rights are traditionally Democrats. But recently a number of Republicans, including Issa, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell have endorsed the District’s budget autonomy.

Via Roll Call:

“This is good timing, and this could be a part of Sen. Lieberman’s legacy,” said ex-Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), a former chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about the lawmaker who will retire at the end of this session. “He could really help.”

* Revenue in Virginia exceeded expectations in March, with the latest report showing an increase in sales and corporate income taxes in the state.

Total revenue collections increased 7.6 percent in March, according to a letter from Virginia Treasurer Richard Brown. And on a year-to-date basis, total revenue collections increased 5.3 percent, surpassing the annual forecast of 4.6 percent.

“March is not typically a significant month for revenue collections. Collections consist mainly of withholding and sales tax revenues as well as the normal collections for most minor sources,” Brown wrote.

Through March, net individual income tax -- which makes up 67 percent of general funds revenue -- rose 6 percent from the same period last year.

But payroll withholding taxes fell 5 percent that month, which Brown attributed to one fewer deposit day in the month and one fewer Wednesday -- the largest payroll-withholding day of the week.

Sales tax increased 11.1 percent, due to the partial repeal of the accelerated sales tax program, which ended the participation of numerous small dealers.

“The last three months of the fiscal year, particularly April and May, are significant collections months. Estimated and final payments from both corporations and individuals are due in April and May, and estimated payments are again due in June. Fiscal year 2012 fourth quarter collections must total $5.0 billion to attain the forecast. Last year, fourth quarter collections were $4.8 billion,” Brown wrote.

* DCentric examined recently released statistics that show a considerable pay gap between men and women in D.C., and an even bigger discrepancy between minority women and white men.

White women, for example, earn 79 cents for every $1 a white man earns, but Hispanic women earn 41 cents for every $1 a white man earns, according to statistics from the National Women’s Law Center.

D.C. has one of the lowest overall wage gaps when compared to the national average of 77 cents on the dollar.

But, according to DCentric, when race comes into play, D.C. doesn’t fare as well.

Among Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta and New York City, D.C. has the second lowest gender pay gap, but the second worst gap when race is a factor.

* Maryland legislators have started talks with Gov. Martin O’Malley about a budget compromise and special session, but, according to the Washington Post, little progress was reported as of Monday afternoon.

O’Malley has already met with House Speaker Michael Busch, and has a meeting scheduled with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Tuesday.

It is still unclear when -- or if -- a special session will be called to fix a hastily passed “doomsday” budget that has severe cuts to education funding and other key programs.

* Maryland Reporter has an interesting profile on House Speaker Michael Busch. The powerful lesislator will be a crucial player in working out a budget compromise.

* D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown is expected to move emergency legislation to a vote on Tuesday that would force the mayor to receive the legislative branch’s permission before reallocating public dollars during this year’s budget review period, according to the Washington Examiner.

Under the proposed legislation, Mayor Vincent Gray would be required to submit any proposed changes of less than $500,000 to the council for review. This mandate would only be in effect for this budget review period, which ends in mid-May.

Via Examiner:

"The current situation makes it extremely difficult for the council to make future capital budget policy decisions based on complete information," Brown wrote in a resolution accompanying his legislation. "This emergency legislation would improve budget transparency and enhance the council's ability to conduct rigorous oversight of the capital budget."

A spokesman for the mayor said the proposal is "immensely ill-conceived and raises some serious questions and could seriously damage the way government actually functions in the District.

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