The District government would have to slash spending in 10 agencies and programs--including courts, corrections and police--if an across-the-board spending cut proposed by congressional Republicans is approved, D.C. officials said yesterday.
In all, officials said, the District would lose about $6 million of the $429 million in federal funds slated for the city this year. Congress is scheduled to consider the District's fiscal 2000 budget today.
On Friday, Republican leaders announced a plan to trim federal government spending by 1.4 percent from what Congress has allowed in the fiscal 2000 budget for federal departments and agencies. It is part of a GOP plan to fund federal programs without increasing taxes or dipping into Social Security reserves.
GOP lawmakers have said they would attach the spending-cut plan to the D.C. budget bill, which also includes spending plans for the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services.
Such an across-the-board cut would hit the District's courts and corrections departments hardest, city officials said. Both agencies have faced severe money troubles the past few years.
"Any proposed reduction in the federal payments would greatly affect District operations," said Valerie Holt, the District's chief financial officer.
The GOP plan also could reduce the amount of money handed out to D.C. high school seniors participating in a new program that would allow them to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland and Virginia colleges and universities. Congress has set aside $17 million for the tuition program, which was backed by GOP leaders.
Also on the chopping block would be a police department program to wipe out open-air drug markets, a plan to provide incentives for the adoption of foster children and a Citizen Complaint Review Board within the police department.
Aides to the two GOP lawmakers who oversee D.C. affairs in the House said yesterday the cut would apply to the $429 million the federal government has allocated to the city in its $4.7 billion budget. A 1.4 percent cut in that appropriation would be about $6 million.
The GOP plan is in doubt, however, because President Clinton likely would veto it.
"We consider it an unacceptable plan," said Linda Ricci, spokeswoman for the White House budget office. "It would damage key areas like education, the environment, the military, law enforcement and . . . the District."
Clinton has defended the District's budget interests this year, vetoing the city's spending plan approved by Congress after he said Republicans loaded it with restrictions that he said intruded on the city's right to govern itself.
The $429 million federal payment comes to the city with strings attached as to how the money may be spent. This year's budget specifies 10 categories of payments, so those are the programs that would have to be cut across the board. Other city agencies and services would not be affected.
The largest payments go to corrections ($176 million) and to several courts programs (totaling $226.8 million). Court administrators have complained at the end of the past two fiscal years that they have been underfunded.
Holt said she was particularly concerned about possible cuts in the corrections budget, which she said is "already extremely tight." In the past year, the department faced a budget gap of $25.7 million, which was covered by a combination of cuts and additional funds from the federal Office of Management and Budget.
The corrections budget pays for basic services such as housing inmates and does not allow for much discretionary spending that could be cut, Holt said. A trustee is providing financial oversight to the department as inmates are transferred to federal prisons.
"Any reduction there is extremely serious," she said, adding that personnel cuts may be unavoidable. "You try not to, but sometimes that's where you're pushed."
FEDERAL PAYMENTS TO D.C. IN FY2000
Federal funds: Amount (IN MILLIONS)
College tuition program: $17.0
Incentives for adoption of foster children: 5.0
Citizen Complaint Review Board: 0.5
Department of Human Services: 0.2
D.C. Corrections Trustee Operations: 176.0
D.C. Courts: 99.7
Defender Services in D.C. Courts: 33.3
D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency: 93.8
Metropolitan Police Department*: 1.0
Children's Hospital: 2.5
Total: $429 million
* Program to eradicate open-air drug markets.
SOURCE: D.C. chief financial officer