Both are members of Congress. Both are Democrats. Both represent western states. Both served in their state legislatures before coming to Washington. And both are named Charles Wilson. Not surprisingly, Rep. Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.) and Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.) sometimes get each other's mail and receive each other's telephone calls - though "not as much as I would have expected." Pam Beer, the California legislator's press secretary, said yesterday. The Washington Post joined in the confusion yesterday, publishing a photograph of the Californian to illustrate a story about the Texan's sponsorship of the District of Columbia appropriations bill. Accompanying this article are pictures of both members of Congress, correctly identified. Wilson of Texas is 46 years old, a resident of Lufkin and a former lumberyard manager and state senator. Wilson of California is 62, a resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, and a former insurance man and state assemblyman. Aides say he also is sometimes confused with Rep. Bob Wilson (R-Calif.), who represents San Diego. Picture 1, REP. CHARLES WILSON . . . of Lufkin, Tex.; Picture 2, REP. CHARLES H. WILSON . . . of Los Angeles, Calif. CAPTION: (NEW-LINE)Picture, REP. CHARLES WILSON . . . sees featherbedding operation
The House Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to cut $43 million from next year's federal payment to the District of Columbia, leaving Mayor Marion Barry with the prospect of the smallest federal budget subsidy in 15 years and a possible increase in local taxes to maintain city services.
The $191.5 million U.S. payment voted by the committee is $125.5 million below what the D.C. government and President Carter had requested. Congress has authorized $235 million so far for the current 1979 fiscal year.
The committee accepted the recommendation of Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.), chairman of its D.C. subcommittee, who contended that the cut was justifiable because the District of Columbia's public payroll is bloated and must be reduced.
"Is the federal government going to continue to fund what appears to be a large featherbedding operation?" Wilson asked the committee. He later accused the city government of having "the fattest public employment situation in the United States."
Barry, who for weeks has been privately at odds with Wilson's view city's public work force, issued a strongly worded response.
"I am extremely disappointed with Congressman Wilson's jaundiced view of the integrity of the District, its citizens and its leadership. I regard as reckless the language that the Congressman used in discussing our budget request," Barry said in a statement read by press secretary Florence L. Tate.
"The use of innuendo, unsubstantiated charges and loaded phrases like 'payroll padding' seem to me to be designed to camouflage an unfriendly attitude and feeling toward the District and its people that I have not been able to figure out," Barry said.
Barry's statement came on the eve of crucial hearings today before Wilson's committee on a $76 million supplemental city budget request that includes $7.3 million to fund a key part of the mayor's highly publicized summer jobs for youth project. Barry is scheduled to attend the hearing. The jobs program is intended to begin next Thursday
"I fully support the mayor's jobs program for youth," Wilson said yesterday. "But I don't think you can pad a payroll to make the government the employer of last resort."
Barry concluded yesterday's response to Wilson's criticism by saying "At this point, we're putting our hopes in Sen. (Patrick J.) Leahy, who has shown himself to be a friend of the District, one who understands the complexities of our having to act variously as a city, a county and a state."
Leahy is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that will act on the city's 1980 spending request. Ironically, in September 1977, then-City Council member Barry, as a candidate for mayor, called Leahy (D-Vt.) a "rinky-dink senator from a state like Vermont." Leahy had angered Barry then by blocking first-stage funding for a proposed downtown convention center in Washington.
The budget approved yesterday would provide the city with a $191.5 million U.S. payment of compensate for the loss of revenues from federally owned tax-exempt land. The payment also helps the city meet the unique municipal costs associated with being the nation's capital. Generally, the larger the federal payment is, the less reliant the city government must be on local taxes to maintain services.
A $250 million 1979 U.S. payment appropriation is pending in the Senate.
The House committee's action was the second step along the lengthy congressional path for the city's $1.35 billion operating budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The city had requested $78 million more.
The Senate is expected to begin action once the full House acts on yesterday's committee recommendation. House action is expected before July 4.
Barry also has asked an additional $52 million for the fiscal 1980 budget. Wilson's subcommittee also will consider that request at today's hearing.
Yesterday's committee session lasted less than an hour, and was dominated by Wilson, a lanky former lumber yard manager from Lufkin, tex., who used one-liners, statistics and strong bipartisan support to defeat arguments for increases in District of Columbia spending allocations.
When, for example, Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) argued that the city should be compensated more for bearing the municipal costs associated with being the nation's capital. Wilson said the federal government was paying its fair share. The District, Wilson said, had envious "gifts" of federally maintained parks, and facilities like the Kennedy Center and the National Zoo, he said.
"The city of Lufkin would like to have the zoo," Wilson said of his home town. "The District of Columbia doesn't even have to feed its own kangaroos."
As approved yesterday, the federal payment would comprise 14.18 percent of the city's operating budget, the lowest share since 1965, when a federal payment of $37.5 million accounted for 14.15 percent of the city's then $227.6 million operating budget.
Most of Wilson's argument in favor of cutting the payments were based on the city's relatively large work force, which Wilson said was proportionately larger than the public employe work force of any other state - 708 employes for every 10,000 residents here. The national average is 485.
Stokes argued that the comparison with other states was misleading because the completely urban District of Columbia has no sparsely populated rual areas within its boundaries in which fewer services are required.
D.C. officials said yesterday's action would force a reduction of 3,100 city jobs. That could require layoffs because the city loses only 1,500 to 1,800 workers yearly by attrition. The city also has the option of keeping its work force the same and cutting in half an expected 5.5 percent pay increase next year for 36,814 regular workers.
More than one-third of the budget reductions voted yesterday, $25 million, would be saved by this work force decrease. Stokes offered an amendment to reinstate $11 million of the cuts and the reduce job losses to about 1,400. The amendment was defeated 22 to 11.
Wilson informally suggested to the committee that six city agencies - Office of Human Rights, Office on Aging, Minority Business Opportunity Commission, Office of Latino Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection and Commission on Women - could be merged.
"It seem that all of those could be one office, the Office of Human Rights," he said.