The D.C. Council defied Mayor Vincent Gray and rejected most of his $77 million supplemental budget package Tuesday.
Lawmakers unanimously voted to spend only $15 million immediately, boosting the District's charter schools and unemployment compensation fund. But the vote dashed -- for now -- about 80 percent of Gray's spending proposal, including a $20 million plan to pay District employees for four furlough days they were required to take last year.
Council Chairman Kwame Brown said the council didn't approve Gray's full request because legislators received the mayor's formal proposal minutes before lawmakers were to meet, which didn't give them enough time to review the package.
"The ball kept moving like three or four times," Brown said after the vote. "It was kind of very unclear."
|The D.C. Council slashed Mayor Vincent Gray's supplemental budget proposal from $77 million to $15 million before approving it Tuesday. Among the budget items legislators refused to back:|
|-- $25 million for D.C. Public Schools|
|-- $20 million for furlough repayments|
|-- $10 million for the Department of Health Care Finance|
|-- $400,000 for the D.C. Public Library|
He said lawmakers will eventually take up Gray's full proposal.
Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham said he thought Gray's pace was deliberate.
"He handled it the way he wanted to handle it," Graham said. "He sent the messages he wanted to send. I don't think he behaves casually with things like this."SClBIn a statement issued after the vote, a spokesman for Gray blamed Brown -- and no other legislators.
"We’re glad the chair heeded our advice and finally acted on some of the pressures. Unfortunately, he's just kicking the can down the road on other important sections of the supplemental," Pedro Ribeiro said. "We will continue working with the council."
Brown declined to respond to Ribeiro's statement, issued on Gray's behalf, and described the mayor's spokesman as "clueless."
Tuesday's vote was the latest episode in a contentious period in Gray's relationship with the body he once led. After the mayor submitted his first supplemental budget request in January, most lawmakers publicly rebuked him.
Brown then refused to schedule a vote on the proposal while legislators reviewed it further, which promoted a Gray administration official to label Brown "a do-nothing chairman." Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, the council's longest-serving member, said hostile periods between the mayor and legislators can hurt city business.
"Things deteriorate sometimes to a point where things don't always operate very well. That's always a concern," Evans said. "I want the relationship between the executive and legislative branches to be more positive than I've seen it in the last couple of weeks."