May 10, 2011

Making the Case for New Taxes

by George A. Jones

Yesterday I reached out to the DC’s City Council and asked them to protect the public services that provide critical aid to families and individuals living in DC.

These are difficult economic times and the DC Government, like many state governments across the country, is trying to address huge budget pressures. We already blogged that $2 out of every $3 in cuts in Mayor Vince Gray’s proposed budget come from safety net programs, even though they make up only one quarter of the total budget. As it stands, the proposed budget would make unprecedented cuts to affordable housing, TANF, homeless services, and Interim Disability Assistance.

While Bread for the City remains more committed than ever to providing high-quality, comprehensive services, we also recognize that the income disparity we have in DC – which has widened over the course of the recession – is a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution. It is the role of government to provide fair and just policies and services to all community members. Cutting services for low-income DC residents is a kind of double whammy – asking those with the lowest incomes and hurt most by the recession to bear the brunt of balancing the budget.

Roger Kuhn, a long-time volunteer and former board member at Bread for the City, is one of the DC residents who wants our city leaders to generate more revenue through progressive tax structures, rather than simply cutting vital programs. In fact, he would be willing to pay more in taxes himself!

As Roger mentions during his testimony, a Hart survey released late last week found that, “An overwhelming majority of those who are most likely to be impacted by the tax increases also voice support. Among voters with incomes of more than $100,000, 90% of District residents say that they find the tax increase on voters earning more than $200,000 to be acceptable.” (Full memo here.)

Instead cuts to vital services, a progressive tax structure would allow our city to make strategic investments that keep families out of costly emergency and remedial services, and bring dollars into the local economy.

I applaud Mayor Gray’s leadership in including a new income bracket for DC residents earning $200,000 and above. In my testimony yesterday, I asked the City Council to go a step farther, and make our tax system even more progressive. Please join me and email the Council to voice your support.

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