- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will submit on Thursday a budget that addresses the city’s projected $200 million spending gap, a plan she noted during a citywide address Tuesday that includes the possibility of program cuts and tax increases.

Outlining a few of her budget priorities in her State of the District address on Tuesday, Ms. Bowser said she tasked her fiscal planners to identify areas where spending cuts could be made while fulfilling one of her main priorities of addressing income inequality in the city.

“Simply put, we came into office with an estimated quarter-billion-dollar budget deficit for the next fiscal year,” Ms. Bowser said. “That deficit means that we will have to make tough decisions about which programs to fund, which to cut back, and whether to raise taxes.”

Asked Wednesday for a clarification about whether tax increase are on the table for the fiscal 2016 budget, Ms. Bowser’s spokesman declined to comment before the budget release.

“We’re not going to get ahead of it,” spokesman Mike Czin said.

D.C. residents saw their first major tax cut in 15 years take effect in January. A tax reform package passed last year by the D.C. Council cut business taxes as well as income taxes for middle-class residents. The package resulted in new taxes for some businesses, requiring six types of businesses to pay sales tax for the first time.

Ms. Bowser noted that her budget plan will reflect input she received from residents during several community forums held across the city since she took office as mayor in January.

“The budget I will submit to our friends at the Council will reflect your input and your priorities,” she said. “It will also reflect the looming $200 million budget gap that will require some tough decisions in order to pave the way to the middle class and allow those who need us most, to prosper.”

Providing more work opportunities for young adults, investing in schools, closing the city’s homeless shelter at D.C. General and opening smaller transitional housing options across the city, and enabling students to ride the Metro for free to get to school were among goals Ms. Bowser cited in her State of the District address.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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