Not First in the Buffet Line!

A good piece was written by Adam Lewis on the Greater Greater Washington Blog ( that examines where DC stands as it relates to federal funding as part of our overall budget. I think a common perception/misperception both here in DC and around the country is that we get a large chunk of our revenue from federal funds since we’re the federal district. The article shows that DC gets 25% of its revenue from the federal government but that doesn’t put us in front of the federal funding buffet line. In terms of percent of overall state budgets DC is behind MS, LA, NM, SD, and AL and we’re tied with VT, MT, & WV.

On an aside…the list humors me to see how many states whose leaders seem to have great distain for the federal government are on top of the list of receiving federal expenditures as a percent of the overall state budget.

There’s no shame or pride in our position on this list yet it does discount a common argument against DC Statehood which often goes something like “well if DC were a state it would lose its federal payment which covers a large part of its budget.” First, we wouldn’t lose the federal payment because all states get certain types of federal payments and looking at the list in Adam’s article federal percent of state budgets on the high end is 35% in Louisiana and 12% on the low end in Nevada. Second, even with Statehood the District (or New Columbia as we’d be called as the District would be the Capitol, the Mall, and the White House) would still house many federal offices and all of the Embassies which would be the same financial burden on the state (not able to tax the property) for a distinctly federal and national interest. New Columbia would still get federal payments for servicing these national interests while also still collecting federal funding for other services such as our Medicaid reimbursement, etc.

So on the financial front (despite our Councilmembers inability to handle their personal finances properly) the city has balanced 16 straight budgets and our budget is not abnormally pumped up by federal expenditures. We have the financial capacity and wherewithal to manage a state budget as we already do it and have been doing so for a long time.

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