NATIONAL POLL: 78% REJECT CONGRESS MEDDLING WITH DC’S LOCAL BUDGET
AS CONGRESS RETURNS, DC DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS TO TAKE CALLS FOR DC BUDGET FREEDOM TO THE HILL
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April 16, 2012
A national poll reveals that Americans overwhelmingly reject Congressional efforts to dictate how the District of Columbia spends locally-raised tax dollars.
Furthermore, Americans strongly believe elected local officials - not Congress - should make the decisions about how and when local DC tax dollars are spent.
The poll results (attached below) will be highlighted when the DC Voting Rights Coalition storms Capitol Hill on Tuesday, April 17 to urge Congressional support for legislation to give the District greater budget freedom. The advocacy effort builds on the substantial momentum to give DC greater budget autonomy. House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has drafted a DC budget autonomy bill -- an effort endorsed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The call for action to free DCs' budget has also been joined by the governors of Virginia and Maryland.
The poll, conducted by Purple Insights on April 5 through 9, 2012 shows that 78 percent of Americans believe Congress should refrain from using the DC budget process to advance a political or social agenda. Furthermore, 71 percent responded that DC officials, not Congress, should make all decisions about how local tax revenues are spent.
"This poll shows that Americans reject the long-held practice by some members of Congress of dictating how DC tax dollars should be spent," said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of DC Vote. "Congressional efforts to hold DC's budget hostage, and the current law that treats DC like any other federal agency for budget purposes, are clearly out of step with the beliefs of the American people," he said.
Support for local control over local tax dollars for the District of Columbia is consistent across the political spectrum. 81 percent of Republicans polled support Congress passing a DC budget bill free of social policy "riders." Independents, Democrats and Republicans record nearly identical, overwhelming support for having elected local officials in the District -- not Congress - make the decisions about how and when DC tax dollars are spent.
Under current law, the District cannot spend its own local tax dollars without a congressional appropriation, and Congress retains the authority to restrict the spending of local tax dollars as it sees fit. On numerous occasions, Congress has placed restrictions upon the District's local budget that banned the use of funds for syringe exchange programs to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, reproductive health services for poor women, and even blocked the counting of votes in a local ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.
Unlike any other jurisdiction in the country, the District is also required to operate on a federal fiscal year, and is treated like a federal agency in the event of a government shutdown.
The poll was commissioned by DC Vote. Results and poll questions are below.