DC Vote's Perry Rails Against City Officials' Budget Autonomy Actions

James Wright | 4/16/2014, 1:59 p.m.
Kimberly Perry, executive director of DC Vote

Kimberly Perry, the executive director of DC Vote, expressed her displeasure Friday with top city officials for trying to undermine budget autonomy in the District.

"It is deeply disappointing that the District's attorney general and mayor are working to undermine the will of the people — and the budget law — rather than fighting for self-determination and defending our right to budget freedom that was won through the ballot box," Perry said.

District voters in 2013 overwhelmingly supported a referendum that would allow the mayor and the city council to make up and pass a budget without the approval of Congress. The results of the referendum, supported by DC Vote, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and District think tank DC Appleseed, has not been overturned by Congress and is legal, according to home rule charter, the city's governing document.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Mayor Vincent Gray (D) have accepted the wishes of voters but are slightly wary of its legality because of their view that the Congress still holds sway over the city's affairs, as set by the U.S. Constitution.

Perry points to the recent actions of Irv Nathan, the District attorney general, as being problematic to budget autonomy being implemented fully.

"Attorney General Nathan's effort to persuade the District's congressionally-mandated chief financial officer to adopt his views on the validity of the new budget law is not surprising," she said. "The CFO's letter is based on the lone opinions the attorney general has been peddling for months, but he does not have the final word on the law. Only the courts or Congress can overturn the law."

Perry said that "the District's new budget autonomy law stands strong."

She said that Mendelson and his D.C. Council colleagues support the law and so does the city's new elected leader to take office in January 2015.

"We are encouraged that the District's next mayor will fully support budget autonomy and support the clear will of the people to advance self-determination for the District," Perry said.