Relying on short-term revenue fixes to pay for spending increases doesn’t bode well for fair and competitive tax policy. Yet this is one of several troubling aspects of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposals now under review by the DC Council. The expenditure projections tell us a lot about the future shape of the District’s fiscal policy — and seem to signal that tax increases could be in the offing in future years.
On March 19, the mayor introduced her fiscal year 2020 budget, along with a four-year financial plan that goes through FY 2023 (which can be found in Chapter 2 of the Executive Summary). Much of the discussion since then has focused on the expenditure side — what was funded and what was shortchanged. The revenue side of the 2020 budget has received some attention, too (see here and here), but the changes to the revenue structure and longer-term expectations baked into the four-year financial plan also require careful examination.