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Income Tax Raise Debated At D.C. Budget Hearing

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Tough decisions are ahead for local lawmakers in the District.

The D.C. Council needs to close a $188 million budget gap before the end of the year and that could mean deep cuts in funding for agencies and programs.

From grandparents worried about the financial assistance they need to help raise children, to judges concerned about cuts to legal aid groups, nearly 100 people signed up to plead their case at Tuesday's marathon budget hearing.

But most council members say the deficit is so large, cuts alone will not bring the city back into the black.

An income tax increase on the city's top earners was suggested by a number of advocates for safety net services -- and while some on the council voiced support, Councilmember David Catania did not.

"To suggest that...we are not giving you what you want, we're not doing the requisite genuflecting and crying and feeling your pain, and therefore we don't," Catania says. "I'd ask you to look very hard at each of the records of the people who are up here who pretend they do...Who pretend they do."

The council plans to finalize the revised budget before the end of year. And in just a few months, it will have to start tackling next year's deficit, which is already twice as large, at nearly $350 million.

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