D.C. Baudget Director Gladys Mack is an optimist. Although there is no money in the bank to pay the District government's 46,000 employes on paydays next Tuesday and Friday, she is confident Congress will act before then to avert a financial crisis for the city.
Unlike many federal agencies that are in the same fix and are preparing stop-gap measures such as half-pay checks, the city is counting on Congress to come through.
"I'm optimistic there will be a resolution before the end of the week," Mack said yesterday, as the Senate and House continued to hold up continuing resolutions because of differences over pay raises for Congress and abortion funds.
If the impasse continues through the weekend, Mack said the District will begin looking at other ways to come up with the $38 million to $40 million it needs to meet its bimonthly payroll.
Mayor Marion S. Barry has said he will exercise the city's option to borrow money interest free, from the federal treasury, if need be.
The $1.4 billion District budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 is tied up over the question of abortion. A House-passed version of the budget includes an amendment that prohibits the use of any tax money, including that raised by local taxes, to pay for abortions.
The Senate has refused to accept that rider, and the matter has been sent back to the House in disagreement by conferees, who refused to budge from the positions voted by their respective chambers.
The city's budget isn't the only one tied up by inter-house disputes. as often happens at this time of year. Congress doesn't complete work on budgets of various agencies. But rather than have federal employes miss pay-days, their departments' budgets are continued at the rate of the old fiscal year by passage of a continuing resolution. But this year, even the continuing resolution is in dispute over the issues of pay raises and tax money for abortions.
Nonetheless, budget director mack said, "We think we'll get one" (a continuing resolution) by Friday. "We are planning to honor our paydays." (
The city also has enough funds to meet its other financial obligations through next week, Mack said, "although we can't begin new programs. But we are holding the line.