Did Mayor Muriel Bowser add to her politically impressive CV, which includes the fact that she is the first woman and elected mayor of the nation’s capital to win two consecutive terms? Is she now a magician as well?
A Democrat, Miss Bowser and the duly elected members of her legislative counterparts are in the throes of a major crisis, trying to balance spending priorities and declining revenues against the onerous realities of COVID-19.
Their jobs are challenging, for sure. So why not take several deep breaths before even proposing how much money should be spent on which policies next fiscal year when this fiscal year’s spending is already marked in red ink and the economic challenges of the coronavirus have yet to be tallied?
Look at her spending proposal released on Monday:
• The District is essentially broke because COVID-19 spending is devouring cash money and reserves.
• Revenues are shrinking because the geese that lay the golden eggs — small businesses and the hotel-tourism industries — are dark. And with entertainment and sporting venues shut, too, taxpayers must nonetheless pay the bills for mass-less mass transit.
• City Hall was warned last month that it would take at least two years for the city to recover.
Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt projected the revenue loss through April was $7.8 billion.
Mr. DeWitt projected the deficit at the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, at $722 billion.
City Hall is hoping a financial recovery might magically begin appearing in fiscal 2022, an election year for Miss Bowser. But even that’s very iffy.
See, progressives are already urging City Hall to not only spend reserve funds on COVID-19, but to withdraw from reserve accounts to cover aid to undocumented aliens and to avoid budget cuts.
The budget isn’t the problem — the overspending and the reckless policies are.
That the District even has reserves and rainy day funds to begin with is because a fiscally conservative Congress rescued City Hall’s golden geese from the hands of progressive politicians and liberal-minded lobbyists who piled on higher minimum wages atop untethered social services, unencumbered health care, cheap child care and “new” school facilities until they didn’t even acknowledge the fact that neither teachers nor students were prepared to teach and learn outside of a classroom.
Congress and the White House weren’t paying attention either because they were too busy maligning each other.
At the very least this time around, the City Hall, the Trump White House and Congress should take a closer look at the city’s spending plan and find somewhere to trim fat.
They must decide whether they want fatter geese and golden eggs or puny geese and eggs tarnished by their reckless spending prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at email@example.com.
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