Here’s how you, and candidates, would use DC’s surplus

Last week on Let’s Choose DC (a partnership of PoPville, Greater Greater Washington and DCist), we had responses from the candidates on how they would spend DC’s $417 million surplus. But before you rated the candidates on their responses, we asked you for your own views.

Continues after the jump.

We asked you about each possible spending category that any candidate mentioned in his or her responses. (There are lots of other possible budget priorities that the candidates did not mention; for space, we didn’t include any of those.)

74% of you said that putting at least some money into the DC rainy-day fund is a moderator or high priority. Other spending areas that rated highly include parks, recreation, libraries, and schools (71%), supporting troubled or underperforming students (63%) and job training (58%).

On the other end of the spectrum, tax cuts were some of the lowest-ranking categories, with lower taxes for seniors (something Perry Redd mentioned in his response only getting 19% support for being a moderate or high priority, lower business taxes (something a few candidates mentioned) at 24%, and lower taxes overall 33%.

How do the candidates stack up?

In past weeks, we’ve created a single bar graph for how you judged candidates’ responses to our questions. But when it comes to the budget, you’re probably more interested in what a candidate said he or she would do with the money than the way he or she said it.

We wanted to understand how voters who cared about different budget priorities rated each candidate. Did voters who care about affordable housing see the candidates differently from those that would prioritize police and fire facilities?

Here’s the graph:

Each of the clusters represents one budget category. If a voter rated that category moderately or very important, his or her votes show up there. Each vertical bar shows how many voters gave a particular candidate a “very persuasive” or “persuasive” rating on that budget category.

Every candidate got a different color—brown for Michael Brown, red for Perry Redd, and gray/silver for Elissa Silverman, with more arbitrary choices for the other 4.

For example, among voters who think saving money in the rainy-day fund is important, Matthew Frumin (green bars) and Elissa Silverman scored the highest for their responses.

In fact, Frumin and Silverman stick out (literally, on the graph) on all of the categories except tax cuts. Frumin barely beat out Silverman in most categories, while she took the top for safety net programs.

Only voters who prioritize tax cuts had a somewhat different view. Perhaps not surprisingly, Patrick Mara won among voters who cared most about general or business tax cuts. However, that was a small proportion of voters.

Despite some early expectations, Mara seems to be struggling to win over voters who might be sympathetic to his fiscal message but also prioritize other factors. He also skipped our question about DC’s growth and this week’s question on bicycling.

Vote on drivers vs. bicycles

This week, candidates weighed in on how drivers, cyclists, and others can just get along on our streets. If you haven’t seen their responses yet, go vote now!

13 Comment

  • Fixing some pot holes would be nice. In my 25 years here I don’t think I’ve ever seen the roads in this bad of shape.

  • Yeah, because if there’s one thing a 90% democratic city with high taxes needs, it’s more taxpayer funded adventures in subsidized housing and ‘social program’s.

  • Glad to see Schools are lumped in with 3 other categorical possibilities, so no matter what, they’d be underappreciated, again, by 3/4. Fuck them and their “rainy day” bullshit. You know damned well the next time they blow their “snow plow budget” it’ll be time to dip into that kitty, for a worthless cause. And how many years down the road, will we be once again talking about someone embezelling from the DCGOV, out of OUR surplus, because they were too dumb to be able to spend it effectively? O/U is 2 years, who wants in?

    I would like to use some of the money on a task force and tactical “round ’em up” squad to guarantee 100% school attendance every single day, or as close as they could make it. Someone needs to beat it into their brains that life isn’t about “YOLO” and Jordans, and “fuck it, I won’t live to see 18, so why wouldn’t I commit X-crime?” We need at least an entire generation at this point, to be completely rebuild, psychologically, from the ground up. Education and discipline, I’m for it. I’d also like to see some of these pathetic excuses for “parents” in this city, held accountable for their seed running buckwild everywhere.

    I’m down with the Corruption task force as well, just don’t let the “Honorable” Marion Berry run that shit. Bye bye money, hello expanded and continued corruption. Sadly, he can balance a budget, and his Youth Jobs Program actually worked, for the most part, but boy did he love an inside handoff.

    Fixing the damn streets, also down with that. I saw somewhere recently that they are only going to fix 17 miles of DC roadway, when we have something like 125 miles total? Use that sweet sweet parking ticket money to actually FIX the roads we travel on. And why can’t we have a wheel tax for all the MD and VA commuters that contribute NOTHING, yet run our roads into the ground? “Oh, I HAVE to drive. I live in BFE.” Guess what, MF’er, you could have just as easily lived here, and walked/biked/rode the Bus/rode the Metro, but ya didn’t. You made a “lifestyle choice” and now it’s costing ME to fix a problem YOU helped create, by living in the exurbs.

    And what about “affordable housing” for the Middle Class? Like I’m sure some other readers/fellow denizens of DC, I have a Gov’t job, and make a decent wage per year, before taxes. Hey great, I’m not bitching about that, but if the cost to own/rent a place wasn’t so damned outrageous, compared to the National averages, I’D BE SPENDING MY “EXTRA” MONEY IN OUR COMMUNITIES! As is stands, my $1,500 in rent per month, means I’m over 50% out of pocket for housing, while being frugal but still racking up debt, and don’t remember ever having “extra money,” thanks to the ever increasing price of living, but MINUS a raise/COLA/etc., thanks to the Gov’t pay freeze. Maybe if the Gov’t (DC and FED) weren’t the BIGGEST welfare provider, and weren’t hell bent on keeping it that way “so people have jobs,” (whether they actually deserve them, or not,) maybe I would have been closer to what I should have been getting paid by now, which would make me less concerned about ever paying off my debt.

    As for tax breaks, not for them. For them, if it means we defund of the BS Social programs we are currently having to pay for, that don’t do SHIT, but overall, taxes are fine. We should be paying taxes, that’s kinda how it works. Now, if we just had Elected Officials we could trust with said tax money, to quote Clay Davis from The Wire; “Shhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttt, partner……..”

  • District – wide free Wi-Fi

  • Police and fire employees haven’t had a raise in almost a decade. They willingly put their lives on the line every day they go to work. Make the city safe for business, commerce, and residents. Their hard work improves our living standards and increases tax revenue by creating safer conditions that encourage people of means to live in the city and raise their families.

    Police and fire employes have been under undo financial burden and need a raise. Take care of those who take care of us.

  • I wish developing infrastructure as a whole was a choice.

  • I think it’s pretty remarkable that affordable housing programs ranked so highly on the public survey. I always thought that politicians talked that up to get populist support. This is a very interesting finding.

    Although I suppose it works both ways… if you can get the people to take the poll they’ll display a want for affordable housing.

    For me personally when I was looking for a house I made very little money and qualified for basically all of the affordable housing programs, but didn’t want to go that route. It’s not a good way to build wealth.

    Despite what many armchair economists say, the best affordable housing program this nation has or will ever have is the FHA 30 year mortgage. As long as they follow their own damn lending guidelines it works. it really is an amazing program that encourages ownership and pride in a class of people that otherwise could not experience it. I used it and it was a great tool for me.

    • +1. The 30-year loan with 3.5% down wouldn’t exist without the government. Despite recent failures of the mortgage industry, it’s still the best vehicle to provide affordable housing and to create long-term wealth.

      I, also, thought affordable housing was what politicians had to support in order to get votes of the quasi-reactionary voters who make up a good chunk of the electorate. This city is rife with crippling and enduring poverty. I think there are good ideas out there to solve it, but one of them isn’t ensuring that rents drop $100/month or the homeless have temporary housing. Those may be noble goals, but they’re not the big ideas that I’d hope the youth intellegensia who read Popville would ennumerate as a priority.

      I think the commenter above who noted that if rents decrease, more people will move in and the city will become denser makes a very good point. We require density to advance the ball forward, but I think the “affordable housing” that Mr. Gray et al. are pushing isn’t necessarily designed to achieve that goal.

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