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Posted at 02:13 PM ET, 05/24/2013

The D.C. Council’s gas-tax surprise


Virginia and Maryland changed their gas taxes this year. Both proposals included weeks or months of debate, including public hearings before the legislature. The District made a similar change yesterday. The total time from the first news story about it to final vote? Less than a day.

In D.C.’s budget process, the mayor releases a proposed budget. Various council committees hold hearings over a period of weeks on their portions of the budget. Committee chairs then schedule markups, and just before the markups, release a draft of what they plan to change.

If the committee approves the changes, they all go to the council chairman, who then tries to assemble them into a budget. Habitually, the chairman releases his own budget late the night before the council is set to vote on the budget. If unexpected changes come up, that gives little time for residents to contact their council members.

When then-Chairman Vincent Gray decided to cut streetcar funding in 2010, for instance, most council members found out that morning. In a very short time, we, other blogs, residents using social media, and others were able to spread the word, which drove 1,000 calls to the chairman’s office in just three hours. Even so, it wasn’t in time to stop the council from cutting the streetcar program. Instead, after lunch, they had to take a separate vote to restore the funding.

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  02:13 PM ET, 05/24/2013

 
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