Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the District of Columbia government, yesterday threw his support behind city officials' plan to issue general obligation bonds as a way to erase its $184 million accumulated budget deficit.
Mathias also said that he favored raising the ceiling of the annual federal payment to the city from $300 million to $336 million to account for inflation. p
However, after a 45-minute meeting in his Capitol Hill office with D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and city budget director Gladys Mack, Mathias refused to take a position on the politically sensitive issue of legalizing certain forms of gambling in the nation's capital.
City voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative in November that would legalize a city-run lottery and daily numbers game. But in Congress, which must review all local legislation before it can become law, two measures have been introduced to kill the local gambling bill.
Mathias yesterday said that while he had "never been enthusiastic about lotteries as a means of raising money," he would nevertheless not take a position on the antigambling measures until hearings were convened.
The federal payment is the amount of money Congress appropriates to the District of Columbia each year to compensate for the federal government's tax-exempt land and for the use of other services. Although the ceiling for that payment has always been $300 million, Congress has never appropriated the full amount.
Mathias said yesterday he had been information from the White House that President Reagan plans to recommend the higher $336 million ceiling in budget proposals to Congress tonight. The senator said that as soon as Reagan formally recommended the higher payment level, he would introduce it as legislation.
Although the federal payment is being spared the president's budget ax, Mathias said "there will have to be some belt-tightening for the District" when other federal programs are cut. Medicaid was the only program targeted for cutbacks that Mathias said would directly affect the District.