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Topics: Labor Unions

Mayor Vincent Gray to call for pay hikes, expanded housing programs

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,Labor unions,D.C. Council,Vincent Gray

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is poised to call for an increased emphasis on housing programs and to express support for pay raises for city government employees during his State of the District Address on Tuesday.

Two city officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging Gray, said the mayor would endorse "a significant investment in housing" that would boost existing programs while proposing new initiatives.

The officials also said Gray would lay out his support for pay raises for city workers, especially police officers and firefighters. The mayor is not expected to offer a specific proposal for compensation increases.

Administration officials first floated early details of Gray's annual address last week as the mayor prepared to unveil a $417 million budget surplus from the 2012 fiscal year.

But after a nearly a week digesting the possibility of forthcoming raises, the city's police union maintained a cautious stance.

"Given the behavior of the mayor's representatives in contract negotiations, there is still a great distance to go," union Chairman Kristopher Baumann said. "Instead of treating the process seriously and showing that they value their workers, particularly their first responders, the city has done the opposite during Mayor Gray's tenure. So, any announcement like this is greeted with suspicion."

But Gray's efforts to increase funding for housing programs may receive a warmer reception from social services advocates, who last week hammered the mayor for refusing to spend any of the city's surplus.

Gray, citing city law, said he was required to put the extra cash in the District's savings account, which now stands at $1.5 billion.

Gray will deliver his annual address at 7 p.m. at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Northwest. Admission is free, and doors open at 5:30 p.m.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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