D.C. Council approves $9.4 billion budget
After several months of negotiations and a few hours of debate, the D.C. Council voted unanimously to approve next year's budget.
But, it contains a few controversial provisions.
The $9 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 includes a provision to extend bar hours to 4 a.m. on 19 holiday weekends, generating an estimated $2 million in extra tax revenue for the District.
Councilman Jim Graham says extending bar hours is a mistake, as it will lead to more noise, congestion, crime and drunk driving.
"There's no bus, no subway, there's only taxi cabs and that's all that will be available," Graham argues.
Still, Graham convinced his colleagues to pass an amendment, requiring bars to submit a safety and security plan if they want to open later.
Others have dismissed Graham's concerns, pointing to extended bar hours during the last inauguration.
Councilwoman Mary Cheh adds, "Their parade of horribles that was identified never came to pass."
Furthermore, supporters of the measure point out that the council can study and repeal the law, if necessary.
" I don't believe having a few days a year, an extended bar hour for one day surrounding holiday weekends, is going to be the apocalypse that some believe it will be," Councilman David Cantania says.
The mayor says the new budget includes 99.6 percent of what he first proposed, closing an anticipated $172 million gap, without any new taxes.
However, the budget does raise the price of parking in metered spaces during rush hour. It will also double the number of traffic cameras across the District, drawing criticism from some.
"And that really should not be our main revenue source," Councilman Tommy Wells explains. "That really does undermine the confidence that people have and that we're looking out for their best interest which is the purpose of traffic fines and tickets, to keep people safe. It's not about balancing the city's budget.
The budget also increases funding for D.C. Public Schools and repays D.C. government workers for $22 million in furlough pay from fiscal year 2011.
Also, ABC7's Sam Ford has a report on City Council Chairman Kwame Brown and any accusations of wrongdoing. Watch his full report.