The District's fiscal 2015 spending plan will likely make D.C.-brewed beer more accessible, and working out a little more expensive.
Despite warnings from Mayor Vincent Gray about the ill effects of taxing gym memberships and altering funding for a 22-mile streetcar network, no members of the D.C. Council were swayed to change their vote on the city's fiscal 2015 spending plan.
By a 12-1 margin, the council voted on Monday to override Gray's veto of the $10.6-billion spending plan
While Gray declared his disappointment with the fiscal 2015 budget approved by the D.C. Council, brewery owners should be pretty happy. Tucked into the bill is a new law that establishes a permit for District breweries that will for the first time allow customers to purchase and drink the brewery’s beer while visiting the facility.
Under the Manufacturer Tasting Permit Emergency Amendment Act of 2014, a brewery can apply for the new $1,000 permit.
At the John A. Wilson building, debate focused on streetcars and tax packages, with no mention of the new beer provisions.
The lone "no" vote on the budget, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, said he feared the city was favoring income and business tax cuts over transit funding. He cited the city's housing crisis and an "emerging transit crisis" and called the budget "shortsighted."
Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser, who represents Ward 4, said she didn't support the 5.75 percent tax on health club services but would not back Gray's veto.
"At the end of the day, however, I recognize so many important things in this budget, including how we fund progressive and widespread tax breaks for residents and businesses in the District of Columbia," she said. Councilmember David Catania, an independent who is running against Bowser for the mayoral seat, also voted to override Gray's veto.
The lame duck mayor issued a statement saying he was disappointed that the council "did not see fit to work with me to craft a reasonable compromise that serves the best interest of District residents,” and reiterating the sentiment of his July 11 veto. Gray estimates the budget would delay the planned streetcar system until 2045.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Marion Barry alleged Gray's priorities were out of whack and the District should be investing in shelters, apartments for the homeless and schools instead of the new rail network.
Barry said he thinks the project has no cost benefit and slammed the track work that has been completed on H Street Northeast. "I'm going to continue to fight against another penny being spent on the streetcar," he added.