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DC Council Chairman Officially Kills Mayor’s Tax Increase Proposals

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said at a Tuesday press conference that while he would give the mayor “99 percent” of what she asked for, she would not get two of her more controversial requests: tax increases and body cameras on all police officers.

Mendelson proposed to scrap the mayor’s tax increases, and instead to find dollars elsewhere in the budget “that did not have programs attached to them” to fund the roughly $30 million funding hole created by the lack of additional tax revenue.

In her proposed budget, Mayor Muriel Bowser wanted to raise the sales tax in the district from 5.75 percent to 6 percent and the parking tax from 18 to 22 percent. Neither of those tax increases made it into the proposed budget the council is set to vote on Wednesday.

The council has received more accurate revenue estimates Since the mayor had to start formulating her budget last November, and Mendelson said this allowed him to find more money and avoid making cuts to programs.

There were “very little in the way of programmatic cuts,” Mendelson told reporters.

In addition to removing the tax increases, Mendelson accepted the proposal of the Judiciary Committee to cut funding for the mayor’s request for police body cameras by nearly two thirds.

Earlier this month, members of the Judiciary Committee cited logistical issues with the roll-out of the body camera program when voting to cut proposed funding from $5.1 million to $1.9 million.

The mayor originally requested an additional 2,400 cameras but the committee believed the city’s police force wasn’t equipped to handle that many new cameras and instead will receive just 1,200.

Mendelson said committee chairman Kenyan McDuffie had done extensive research in to police body cameras, even convening a hearing on the matter, and found it unnecessary to give the police that many new cameras.

“My sense is that most of the members of the council agree with Councilman McDuffie,” he said.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Bowser held a press conference to announce her signing of a bill that would temporarily expand the city’s summer jobs program to people that were 24 years old, where she slammed Mendelson for not making the expansion permanent in his budget.

She took a shot at Mendelson and other members of the council, claiming they didn’t care about poor D.C. residents outside their own wards.

“No matter what ward you represent, you have an obligation to support the young people in all eight wards,” Bowser said.

Mendelson, however, disagreed and said the money spent on the summer jobs program would be better spent at the city’s community college on workforce training initiatives.

“24 year-olds ought to have a real job,” he said. “Not a six week minimum wage job.”

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