- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2003

The District's top officials gathered in front of the press the other day, touting the clean audit that the city has received, and then indulged their liberal selves by proclaiming that the White House and Congress must do something about the District's "structural imbalance." We commend city officials for the clean financial records and balanced budgets, and for reaping annual surpluses. Neither of the three, though, is an extraordinary accomplishment. The mayor, the CFO and the D.C. Council are merely doing what they were elected and hired to do.
Still, even pats on the back for balanced budgets aren't enough. D.C. officials constantly complain about "financial constraints" and "structural deficits." In other words, the prohibition on a commuter tax and the need for an annual federal payment.
Perhaps, then, this is the budget year to begin serious deliberations on an annual federal payment in lieu of taxes (or PILOT). After all, most of the real property in the District, including 42 percent under the auspices of the federal government, is exempt from property taxes. Also, the District used to received an annual PILOT from the federal government. A major reason it no longer receives that payment is because city officials accepted the Clinton administration's Trojan horse an increase in Medicaid and other funds in exchange for an annual payment. Besides, passed federal payments were not based on any hard rules, such as local revenues or federal property values. Perhaps that should be the starting point for discussions.
However, allowing the D.C. government to levy taxes on workers who live elsewhere is out of the question.

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