D.C. calls budget 911 and weighs police, EMS cuts

November 23, 2010

By Deborah Simmons and Matthew Cella-The Washington Times

The District is in such dire financial straits — one city lawmaker characterized it as a “crisis” — that officials are considering cuts to such sancrosant agencies as public safety and schools to ward off a growing fiscal 2011 deficit and a looming $345 million budget gap in 2012.

Social service programs and other discretionary spending face some trimming, but funding cuts in schools and public safety are inescapable, at-large D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown said.

“We have to look at programs that traditionally are not on the table,” Mr. Brown told The Washington Times. “Police, fire and schools. These are agencies that haven’t traditionally been on the table.”

By law, the city must establish and sustain a balanced budget and Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray has promised a hard line against new taxes, which means the District will have to come up with major spending cuts quickly.

“This is a crisis situation,” said Council member Jim Graham of Ward 1, a minder of the city’s safety net and usually an opponent of cutting social services. “We have to consider everything.”

Their comments followed Mr. Gray‘s announcement Monday that the budget deficit had grown from $175 million in September to $188 million.

In his road map detailing the budget woes, Mr. Gray twice targeted special-education funding: One bulleted item cited $31.7 million in cost overruns, and the other listed $10.1 million in unbudgeted raises and rent-cost overruns.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/22/dc-schools-overspent-special-ed-budget-43-million/

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