Jack Evans Report: Sunset Sales Tax Now
I wrote in my last column about the new Council period and a number of my priorities, such as education, public safety, and affordable housing. One of the things these goals have in common is that they are substantially impacted by the budget decisions that the Mayor and the Council will make over the next several months. As Chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, this half of the year is often my busiest.
I am hopeful that the Mayor’s budget will include funding for these items as well as for expanded library hours, and that it will include sensible tax relief now that we can afford it. This is a time when everyone is expecting hundreds of millions of dollars of “new” revenue to our government to be announced due to higher-than-expected tax collections as our economy improves. In light of that information, it simply doesn’t make sense to continue our plan to begin to tax out-of-state municipal bonds this year, a tax which largely impacts seniors. I believe I have the Mayor’s support on this issue, but it will help if he and my colleagues on the Council hear from you prior to and during budget considerations.
I am also hopeful that the Mayor will finally sunset the supposedly temporary increase in the sales tax. In case you don’t know the story, the government raised the sales tax from 5.75% to 6% several years ago with the promise that it would sunset by now. Unfortunately, when the government thought it needed the money, it simply repealed the sunset provision. Now that everyone knows we have the money, we should keep our promise to lower this tax. All my colleagues should be able to agree on this, as the sales tax is regressive, disproportionately impacting those who have the least disposable income.
Before the budget is released, we first go through the performance oversight process. Over the past two weeks, I have sent a number of questions to the agencies under my purview to collect data on agency structure and recent spending. After I review what has worked and what has not, I will be in a better position to make recommendations on adjustments to the agency budgets for next year. I am also pleased to welcome the Commission on Arts & Humanities and Destination DC as new additions to my committee oversight responsibility this year. Thanks for your support during this process, and please feel free to reach out to my office as well as to my colleagues to share your views. ★