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Schwartzman Bs a Testimony Fy 2014

Schwartzman Bs a Testimony Fy 2014

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Published by Susie Cambria
DC Statehood Green Party testimony at BSA hearing.
DC Statehood Green Party testimony at BSA hearing.

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Published by: Susie Cambria on May 05, 2013
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08/29/2014

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Hearing on the FY 2014 Budget Request Act of 2013 and the FY 2014 BudgetSupport Act of 2013.
Friday, May 3, 2013, 10 a.m., Room 500, Committee of theWhole, Chaired by Phil Mendelson, John A. Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004
 
I am testifying on behalf of the DC Statehood Green Party, as its Tax & Budget
Coordinator. While there are a few positive initiatives in the Mayor’s proposed budget,notably $100 million for “affordable” housing, the devil is in the details, e.g., j
ust howmany units created by the Housing Production Trust Fund will be truly affordable thelow-income community? Further, there is little attention to immediate housing needssuch as the shelter capacity for families and homeless youth.
The Mayor and City Council owe the residents of DC a profound apology for theoutrageous denial of shelter (Sasha Bruce House) to homeless youth because of lack of funding, despite the $417 million surplus put in the bank by our Mayor,with little objection from the City Council
(Washington Post, March 22, 2013; StreetSense, April 10-23, 2013).
Please note as well the fact that DC millionaires pay thelowest DC tax rate, even lower than poor residents while having a taxable incomein 2011 of $3.3 billion
(Those taxpayers earning more than $100,000 per year had ataxable income of $12.4 billion, 67% of the DC total, while making up 22% of alltaxpayers; IRS data, http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats---Historic-Table-2).
 
The DC Statehood Green Party is a longstanding member of the Fair Budget Coalitionwhich rightfully frames our budget challenges as human rights issues. Please read the
Report on State of Human Rights in DC if you haven’t
done so already; available athttp://afsc.org/resource/report-state-human-rights-dc.This report is an assessment of the human rights record of our local and federal governments since DC self-declareditself as a Human Rights City, on December 10, 2008, the first U.S. city to do so. Our District government and elected officials received Fs for Poverty reduction and incomeequality and Welfare of Children and D for Public Education. These grades were givenin February 2012 and still stand as testimony to continuing human rights violations inDC for which our elected government bears a large share of responsibility.
 
In line with standing up for economic and social human rights, the DC Statehood GreenParty joined with 208 organizations in requesting the withdrawal of Subtitle D, TheHomeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2013, from the 2014 Budget Support Act. Despite the fact that the proposed HSRA amendments significantly impact therights of shelter applicants, shelter residents, Rapid Rehousing participants andSupportive Housing participants, they were not vetted with the Interagency Council on
Homelessness (“ICH”) or any other community process
 
In addition, we strongly support passage of the Statehood Advocacy Act of 2014 and join with the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO in urging the removal of Section 110, a
 
provision which would call on Congress to wipe out the liability of District governmentfrom paying $36 million back pay owed to fire fighters (IAFF Local 36).Since 2008, more than $200 million in funding has been cut for low-income programs in
DC’s budget. For FY 2014
, Mayor Gray is proposing still another budget thatshortchanges our working class and low-income residents with lack of necessaryinvestment into childcare subsidies, homeless services, Emergency Rental Assistanceand other housing-related programs, Opportunity Youth, job training/adult education, theVictim Assistance Fund and TANF, which remains below poverty for most recipients(now 26% of the federal poverty level, DCFPI, 2013 study). Several of these programswere put on a wish list. Rather they should all be prioritized and funded in this Councilsession. The Fair Budget Coalition estimates at least $85 million should be added tothe low-income budget, but our Mayor proposes no sources of revenue, with his budgetalready including anticipated surplus funds. One significant progressive tax is proposedto be cancelled, the Out-of-State Bonds Tax. Two-thirds of this revenue has come fromhouseholds with income over $200,000, while only 2.4% from those with incomes below$50,000 (DCFPI, April 23, 2013). This tax should not be cancelled.
“One City” will remain a pipe dream unless a just tax and budget is put in
place.
Economic hardship continues for so many in our community, with half of D.C.’s
Black children living in poverty. DC continues to have very high incomeinequality. These facts should not be ignored, just as so many walk pass the homelesson our streets with no eye contact. The
Mayor and Council should act now toincrease funding for low-income programs in the FY2014 budget, using our morethan adequate tax base, by making our tax structure progressive and morecapable of funding essential needs. First, hike the tax rate on the top 5% incomebracket and lower it for the bottom 60%
with the additional revenue accrued legislatively targeted to our now depleted low-income programs.
A progressivetax structure can be kept intact with lower tax rates for all residents once our Council finally gets around to meeting its long overdue challenge of curbingcorporate welfare (e.g., unjustified tax abatements) and insures that basic humanneeds are adequately addressed by our District government.
We support fundingof the Schedule H Property Tax Relief Act of 2012, as a minimum first step in givinglong overdue tax relief to working class and low-income residents,
Here is the latestdata for the tax burdens of DC families: the top 1% of DC families (averaging $2.4million income) now pay a lower DC tax rate (6.3%) than the bottom 20% with$12,600 average annual income (6.6%), while the working/middle class pays 9 to11%
(Who Pays? 4
th
Edition, ITEP January 2013, www.whopays.org). (For more on progressive tax alternatives for DC, and why a tax hike for the wealthy would not erodeour tax base, please check out the website of the DC Citizens for Tax Justice:www.dcctj.org
;Note that our “A Fair Tax and Revenue Plan for the District” plan
provides even more Schedule H tax relief).
 
David Schwartzman
 
 
Tax & Budget Coordinator, DC Statehood Green Party
 
P.S. This is my complete written testimony. In four minutes I could only touch on themain points. In the comments period following my testimony, Councilmember Evanschallenged me, and by implication all just budget advocates, to find the waste in our record budget in order to better fund our low-income budget when I pointed to the morethan $200 million cut in low income programs since 2008, despite the record overalllevel of funding in proposed FY 2014 Budget, and the continuing economic and socialhuman rights violations occurring in DC. His time then expired, and I was not permittedto respond. I would have pointed out that the Mayor and City Council, as presumedservants of our residents, have the moral responsibility to achieve exactly that goal.Their first priority should be directed to our residents most in need in a city with an ever-shrinking stock of available housing. The majority of our residents bear the burden of income insecurity, a direct result of record income inequality.
Documentation
 
Washington D.C. Turning Youth Away From Homeless Shelters Despite $400Million Budget Surplus
 By Scott Keyes on Mar 22, 2013 at 1:15 pmWashington PostHomeless youth in Washington D.C. are being turned away in droves from shelters after 
the city slashed its budget for homeless children’s services. In its latest budget,
the cityenjoys a $417 million budget surplus, yet they cut funding for youth homeless sheltersby $700,000 and overall homeless services by $7 million. Mayor Vincent Gray has
announced he will keep the surplus in the city’s savings account, which will no
w total$1.5 billion.
D.C.’s budget cuts are having a disastrous impact on the city’s homeless. As the
Washington Post details, many youth are being turned away from shelters who no
longer have the budget to accomodate them. Counselors at one of the city’s
largestshelters for homeless youths have had to turn away more than 80 unaccompaniedchildren
some as young as 12 or 13
who came to them for help in the past six
weeks after the city cut more than $700,000 from the shelter’s budget. [...] For workers
 on the ground, the effect of lost
or redirected
money has been clear andimmediate. One counselor at Sasha Bruce House recalled trying to counsel a sobbingteen seeking a place to sleep after her mother lost the family apartment, and being ableto do little to help.
“To not be able to help somebody and know there is not any other option for them —
 
it’sheartbreaking, it’s awful,” said Gina Bulett, the primary counselor. The program now just
has five emergency beds, down from 16 last year, but houses dozens more inapartments.
The city’s cuts to homeless services come at a particular inopportune time as the
number of people living on the streets continues to increase. A survey last year found
6,954 homeless people in our nation’s capital, a 6 percent inc
rease from the year prior.
It’s no surprise then, with increased demand and less funding for shelter beds, that the

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