- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

A majority of D.C. lawmakers united at a press conference Tuesday to put the Williams administration on the spot. Trim your budget and nix the tax increases, they said. We stand with the council.
The announcement came as no surprise to the mayor, since Council Chairman Linda Cropp had said at the start of budget talks that everything was on the table. The council kept its word to cut spending, but the mayor kept insisting that the only way he can maintain a balanced budget and his political priorities is to raise taxes.
If those refrains sound at all familiar, it is because the executive and legislative branches went through a similar drill in 1999. At that time, Mayor Williams was fresh off trouncing five lawmakers. The council wanted to cut taxes, but the mayor disagreed. The council stood firm back then, and a compromise led to substantial tax cuts. A veto-proof majority (without Democrats Harold Brazil and Jim Graham) attended Tuesday's announcement, which is a good sign.
Tentative cuts made by the council include shaving raises for nonunion workers and trimming funds for several programs. "We have made no final decision," Mrs. Cropp said, "but we're trying to see that the government lives within its means." The bureaucracy can stand much more belt-tightening.
Lawmakers rescheduled a vote on the budget for May 6. This might seem like short notice. However, the administration had months to prepare the budget and months since that budget reached the council to make the necessary spending cuts minus tax increases. Since those cuts haven't been made, the council is giving the administration yet another opportunity to take a leadership role. With the help of Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi whose staff has significant insights into the budgets of agencies outside the mayor's control, including the sports commission and the water authority choice cuts should come easily to the mayor.

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