The District of Columbia government has refused a request from the financially strapped D.C. Statehood Constitution Convention that the city pick up the estimated $80,000 cost of printing copies of a 2,500-page legislative history of last spring's convention.
City budget officials said they have suggested to convention president Charles I. Cassell that private sources be used to pay for extra copies of the history. Mayor Marion Barry is scheduled to submit the report to Congress later this month, along with the proposed statehood constitution approved by voters last fall.
Cassell said that city officials and the public ought to be able to get copies of the document, which chronicles the convention's 90 days of debate over the constitution.
Cassell said the convention, which began the year with a $150,000 budget expected to last through Sept. 30, is likely to run out of money within six or seven weeks, and it cannot afford to pay the printing costs.
More than half of the convention's budget was consumed when Congress required that each voter receive a printed copy of the proposed constitution before last November's balloting, city officials said.
Two members of the convention's four-person staff were laid off last week in an effort to save about $850 a week, convention officials said.
"Our money is gone now," Cassell said yesterday. "It will be necessary for the city to provide that money. The city cannot allow a legally constituted agency to die for lack of funding."
Dwight S. Cropp, secretary of the District of Columbia, said his office has provided staff services to prepare the legislative history, but it cannot "absorb the costs needed to print copies of the document."
Robert Austin, the chief staff member for the convention, said the legislative history is part of a four-volume report being prepared.
In addition to the 2,500-page convention history, his staff is putting together a simplified media history of the statehood issue since 1970, an appendix of raw data such as minutes and attendance records for the 45 delegates, and an index to key issues.