Many people and jurisdictions feel the impact of sequestration, but Mayor Vincent Gray says the federal budget cuts hit the District harder than any other area, with thousands of jobs lost.
From the site of a planned Walmart store on Georgia Avenue in Northwest, Gray didn’t want to talk about the living wage bill he received from the D.C. Council last week, despite the fact that dozens of supporters of the living wage protested on the steps of the Wilson Building and delivered thousands of petition signatures to the mayor urging him to sing the new law.
Gray wanted to shine a light on the huge impact sequestration is having on the District
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“Just in the past months, we have lost some 7,000 government jobs, all of which, virtually, are federal jobs,” he said.
He stressed it’s not just jobs that have been lost.
“The District is currently projected to lose approximately $30 million in federal grants,” Gray said.
Those grants pay for things like meals for senior citizens and HIV testing.
While the District’s budget surplus could fill that gap, it won’t help the unemployment rate.
For that, the private sector is the answer, Gray said, and part of his plan is to make D.C. friendlier to big retailers -- like Walmart.
Gray was asked again if vetoing the living wage bill would help attract the new jobs he’s trying to bring to D.C.
“If you want a specific answer, which I know you will pursue it until you have a specific answer, I don’t have one for you,” he said.
Gray pointed to training in the technology and medical sectors as ways to create more jobs.
As for the living wage bill that Walmart says would force them to stop construction on some of their stores in D.C., Gray refused to say when he’d announce his decision, but every indication is that he will veto it.