CM Michael Brown says tax hikes will gain momentum in 2011; Were Montgomery Co. budget cuts retaliation?
For the second time in two days, a veteran member of the DC Council has predicted that the panel will vote to increase taxes on wealthy DC residents next year.
Today on NewsTalk, Councilman Michael A. Brown said the cumulative impact of cutting government programs, particularly at a time when many residents are suffering, will cause a Council majority to conclude that raising taxes – while painful – is not as bad as reducing services still further.
Brown (I-At Large) is aligned on this issue with Ward 1’s Jim Graham, who predicted yesterday that support for a tax hike on six-figure salaries will coalesce in early 2011. Opposing them is Jack Evans, chairman of the Council’s Finance & Revenue Committee, who predicts a tax increase will cause high-income residents to flee DC, a suggestion Brown finds unlikely:
Brown’s pursuit of new revenue isn’t limited to his pursuit of a hike in the city’s income tax. He also supports the legalization of online gambling. He proposes that the DC Lottery’s website be allowed to offer poker and fantasy football, which – once legal – would then be taxed.:
Our interview with Councilman Brown re-airs today at 4pm, 6pm and 8:30pm. During our discussion we also talked about whether services for homeless families should be limited to DC residents. Some, including the New York Times editorial page, object to this notion, but Brown said that, in difficult times, the city must serve city residents first, even if this means that needy persons get turned away.
Also re-airing today: Our conversation with Simon Lazarus of the National Senior Citizen Law Center. He supports the president’s health reform law, and he predicts the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the legislation, despite this week’s ruling from a federal judge in Virginia.
Lastly, we talked today with Eric Bernard of the Montgomery Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association. He said the County Council’s vote to eliminate 20 administrative positions is an act of retaliation against the association for its opposition to the ambulance fee referendum.
Bernard expressed disappointment that two members of the Council who ran with the Association’s backing in November – Craig Rice and Hans Riemer – supported the reduction, which passed on a 5-4 vote.
A county official called Bernard’s claim “baloney,” saying that Executive Ike Leggett, who pushed hard for the referendum, warned all along that a defeat would blow a $14 million hole in the county’s already-strapped budget. The referendum was defeated 54%-46% last month.