Washington DC

DC Council unanimously approves next year's budget, closing $700M gap

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The D.C. Council voted unanimously in favor of next year’s budget, which includes tax increases and cuts to major programs, but some big items were saved.

The Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser battled over how to close a $700 million budget gap next year.

The Council’s final budget vote restored funding for two of Bowser’s big projects: a youth indoor recreation center on the RFK Stadium campus, and planning and construction for a new jail, which Councilmember Brooke Pinto worked to fund.

“I'm grateful that we were able to work with colleagues, work with the chairman to ensure that that funding is back in place and the project can continue moving forward as anticipated,” she said. “The residents at the jail deserve it, and our entire public safety goals of our city rely on having a jail that is setting people up for success upon reentry.”

But the budget cuts several programs, including the DC Circulator bus, and it raises some taxes, including:

  • The property tax rate on houses selling for $2.5 million and more,
  • The payroll tax for paid family leave from 0.62% to 0.75%,
  • The sales tax by 1% over the next two years.

The budget also eliminates tax exemptions on municipal bonds.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson increased funding for housing vouchers to help families facing evictions.

“There are now 577 vouchers and there'll be an amendment to add even more than that,” he said. “What the mayor had submitted was zero vouchers. We will be at least 577.

That's not enough with regard to the 2,200 families who've been told they have to exit rapid rehousing, but it's definitely much better than what we thought when we got the budget in April.”

There is a technical vote that needs to occur in the next few weeks.

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