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DC continues fight for budget freedom

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray
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WASHINGTON -

It sounded like a State of the Shutdown speech by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray Thursday night. At a charter school on Capitol Hill, Mayor Gray sounded the alarm bell: declaring time is running out on a city operating on reserve funds.

"This unfortunate situation is the result of an obscure and frankly unjust provision of federal law that essentially treats the District as if we were a federal agency when it comes to a federal shutdown," Gray told an audience of about 200 city residents and government employees.

"And very soon, we won't be able to make our scheduled quarterly payment of roughly $150 million to the District's 66 public charter schools," Mayor Gray says. "Schools that now educate over 35,000 or 43 percent of our public school students."

In the audience, Valena Valentine, who works for KIP DC, one of those charter schools.

"And it's affecting our security guards, our crossing guards," she says. "And it's affecting people in the cafeteria. It's affecting everyone."

"It means that families may be at risk," says Mae Best, head of the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative. "They may end up being homeless or they may end up having their children taken into foster care because we aren't able to provide the services that are needed."

"Can you think of anything much more galling than for me to reach into your pocket," a frustrated mayor asked his audience, "find out how much money you have in there ... and then tell you, 'I know it's your money, but ask me if you can spend it.' Aren't we sick of that, ladies and gentleman?"


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