D.C. Wants Feds to Pay for Roads and More
D.C.’s pseudo-congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton wants the federal taxpayer to pay for roads and other capital improvements to make up for the city’s inability to collect taxes.
D.C. seeks feds’ help to offset costs (Washington Examiner)
It might be a drop in the federal government’s giant bucket, but nearly $1 billion for the District would be a welcome windfall. Congresswoman[*] Eleanor Holmes Norton, with bipartisan support from the entire regional delegation, on Tuesday introduced the “Fair Federal Compensation Act of 2005.” It would provide at least $800 million a year to the District for capital improvements and to pay down debt, with the payment adjusted annually to keep up with inflation.
“We’re talking about $800 million,” Norton said during a press conference in front of Lincoln Theatre. “This doesn’t even register on the federal cash register.”
The congresswoman[*] wants to create a new federal payment to assist the city. The legislation is meant to offset the so-called “structural imbalance” that the Government Accountability Office found to be between $470 million and $1.1 billion a year, according to its May 2003 report. The imbalance – the difference between the city’s costs and its ability to raise revenue – is primarily the result of the city’s inability to tax commuters or collect property taxes on federal property, District officials argue. Sixty percent of the city’s buildings are owned by the federal government or nonprofits which pay no taxes. Ten of the largest nongovernmental agencies – including Fannie Mae, the mortgage guarantor – pay no franchise tax and only one pays property taxes.
Under Norton’s bill, the $800 million could only be used to build schools, repair roads and make other capital improvements the city must regularly defer, the congresswoman said. The money also could be used to reduce the city’s debt.
This would seem to be an argument for reverting back to the days before home rule for the District. The vast majority of its revenue-producing property is federal land. Indeed, almost no one would live there were in not the nation’s capital.
*Norton is not a “congresswoman.” The District of Columbia is not a state and is therefore prohibited by Article I of the U.S. Constitution from having representation in the House and Senate.