D.C. residents vote for city to control own budget

D.C. residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to give the District power to spend its own tax dollars without congressional approval – a victory for the city’s home-rule advocates.

Eighty-three percent of residents voted in favor of the referendum for D.C. budget autonomy,

which would give the city’s mayors control over 70 percent of its $9.6 billion budget.

James Jones, a spokesman for the advocacy group D.C. Vote, said the referendum represented a win for residents.

“It’s a pretty simple ‘yes’ vote for most people in the District who understand very intimately and understand for a long time having someone you did not elect have control over what happens with your tax dollars,” Jones said.

D.C. government currently has to submit its budget to Congress for approval, which Jones said creates a three-month lag between when the city passes the plan at the end of the fiscal year and when officials can begin to use the money.

Congress holds a 35-day review period during which they have the power to overturn Tuesday’s bill. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House oversight committee, questioned the legality of the referendum in December because it would take power away from Congress.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s lone representative in Congress, said in a release Wednesday that she is “working to head off any congressional efforts to block or overturn the referendum or to penalize the District for pursuing the referendum.”

President Barack Obama included a legislative provision to allow D.C. budget autonomy in his 2014 fiscal year plan, which he proposed earlier this month.

Also in the vote Tuesday, Anita Bonds was elected D.C. Council member at-large when she won 32 percent of votes. Less than 10 percent of registered voters came out to vote in the special election to fill a vacant seat on the D.C. Council.

Bonds has been serving as interim Council member since last June – when former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown was charged for bank fraud and resigned from his position.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.