Term: 4 Years
QUESTION: What would you do specifically to deal with the District's budget crisis? List three programs you would cut or streamline and tell how you would raise additional revenue.
Bernell Brooks (I)
931 Longfellow St. NW
Editor of the Wire, a national black newspaper; former organizer, Northern Louisiana Conference of Black Mayors; member, National Association for Prison Reform; former national organizer, African Liberation Support Committee; former member, Democratic Party; former teacher, public schools in Monroe, La.; attended Southern University; member, New Bethel Church of God in Christ; married; one child.
The budget crisis is artificial. It has been created by gross mismanagement in the mayor's office and the city council, which consistently forwarded budgets to Congress with expenditures exceeding revenues. The District's total debt of $2.5 billion results from an accumulated general fund deficit of $378 million, and a $1.9 billion outstanding balance on our general obligation bonds. Currently our average cost per mile to reconstruct and resurface our streets is $7.6 million, as compared to $70,000 in Montgomery County. I would reduce our cost to reflect the regional average. Corrections and education should be our front-line institutions for socializing citizens against opting for a career of crime. Currently our recidivism rate is 81 percent, although we spend $20,000 a year per prisoner, and $32,000 for each Corrections employee. Corrections is our fastest growing area of expenditures, and public education is our major failure. Since 50 percent of all prisoners never complete elementary school, cost reduction in Corrections must be achieved by focusing on work skills and education. Regarding city administration, I would raise the percentage capping debt service payment from 8 percent to the maximum 14 percent, to reduce our indebtedness. I would reduce the budget to 90 percent of the total revenue and place a freeze on hiring. Property taxes and income taxes are the fastest growing areas generating revenue. I would encourage this growth by upgrading the District work force to place D.C. residents in more than 50 percent of available District jobs, rather than the current rate of 30 percent.