- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2012

The D.C. Council on Tuesday will consider a $68.7 million spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year that repays city workers for furlough days they took in 2011 and repeals a controversial and confusing tax on interest earned from out-of-state bonds, council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said.

Mr. Brown said the supplemental fiscal 2012 budget package includes $22.4 million to compensate workers for all four unpaid holidays they took as part of a cost-cutting measure, only to see the District receive a windfall of revenue by the end of the year.

The initial proposal from Mayor Vincent C. Gray included about  $19 million for the reimbursement, but the number trended upward when the city began to cover salary costs that would have normally been paid by federal dollars.

Critics of the plan suggested the reimbursement was a political gift to labor unions who supported city politicians during their campaigns for office.

Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, has said there are better uses for the funds, such as restoring a $23 million cut in Mr. Gray’s fiscal 2013 budget to hospital and specialty care for members of the D.C. Alliance, which serves residents who are not eligible for Medicaid.

Other council members wanted additional funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or affordable housing initiatives.

“Clearly there is not enough money to return money to everyone,” Mr. Brown said at a press briefing Monday.

Mr. Brown noted that the funding will go to both union and non-union employees. He also said he will not accept his furlough reimbursement.

The supplemental budget plan before the council will also spend $1.1 million to kill off a tax on D.C. residents who earn income from holding out-of-state bonds, an assessment the council imposed for the first time last year after hours of debate.

The measure has been unpopular since its inception during complicated budget talks last summer. Its application of the tax has caused confusion among bondholders and financial professionals, council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, has said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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