- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mayor Vincent C. Gray is “not going to speculate” on a U.S. House oversight committee’s request to hear testimony Thursday on the District’s budget - a move that raised the specter of the congressionally imposed financial control board.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s D.C. subcommittee, called the hearing “to examine the fiscal sustainability of D.C. spending,” according to his office.

Mr. Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown are scheduled to testify at the Rayburn House Office Building shortly before 9 a.m. A second panel will include D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi and a trio of trade and finance experts from the region.

But the three-paragraph release by Mr. Gowdy’s office raised eyebrows when it referenced in one full paragraph the city’s history of congressional oversight of its financial affairs.

“In 1995 the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act established a five member ‘Control Board’ to oversee financial matters,” the release said. “The Control Board was disbanded in 2001 when District had achieved four consecutive balanced budgets and met other criteria. There are seven separate ‘triggers’ which would automatically revive the Control Board.”

Mr. Gray said at his weekly news conference Wednesday that he looks forward to testifying about the budget and there is no reason to expect the return of the control board.

The fiscal 2012 budget plan is structurally balanced, meaning it only relies on the money that “comes in the door.”

“I believe we’re on the path to continue the progress of the past,” he said.

Asked whether the committee seemed “heavy-handed” in its approach, the mayor said, “I guess we’ll see.”

If the District has to deal with such measures, Mr. Gray said, “every state in the nation ought to face the prospect of a control board.”

“Nobody else in America has to endure this approach that unfortunately is reserved for us here in the District of Columbia,” he said.

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