D.C. Council Backs Welfare Cuts, Rejects Tax Hike to Close Gap
(Washington Post) — The D.C. Council approved a city spending plan Tuesday that avoids higher taxes but includes far-reaching efforts to control spending on welfare programs, including a controversial move to start cutting off direct assistance after five years. On a day that saw public protests at the John A. Wilson Building and sparring among council members over the city’s obligation to care for its neediest residents, the council passed a series of amendments to close a $188 million shortfall in the current fiscal year’s budget. The vote is viewed as a warm-up to negotiations in the spring over the fiscal 2012 budget, when council members and Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) will face a projected $440 million shortfall. And although the council refrained from raising taxes Tuesday, most members agree that the debate to come will not be about whether to raise taxes but on whom and by how much to raise them.