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Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Veto of Supplemental Budget Request for
Public Benefit Corporation

April 25, 2001




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April 25, 2001

The Honorable Linda W. Cropp 
Council of the District of Columbia 
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 704 
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chairman Cropp:

Pursuant to Section 404(t) of the Home Rule Act, I am exercising my line item veto authority to disapprove the section of Bill 14-145, the "Fiscal Year 2001 Supplemental Budget Request Act of20Ol" passed by the Council that directs $2l,500,000.00 to be used from local funds for the continued operation of the District of Columbia Health and Hospitals Public Benefit Corporation. The Public Benefit Corporation's ("PBC") functions will be conducted by the D.C. Hcalthcare Alliance, as part of a transformation of the city's health care system. Under separate cover I have conveyed to the Council the "Health Care Privatization Emergency Amendment Act of 2001" which will formalize the new system and create a new entity, the Health Care Safety Net Administration, to oversee the new arrangement. I am also using my line item veto authority to disapprove the Management Supervisory Service title included in Bill 14-145, which rescinds $3,854,000 as appropriated in the District of Columbia Appropriations Act for 2001, approved November 22, 2000 (Public Law 106-522) since this item was added to provide funds for the PBC which I am disapproving.

For almost two years, the Executive, Council, health care providers, and citizens have engaged in a spirited and far-reaching discussion of whether, and then eventually, how, to reform our health care safety net. As we considered this matter, I have acknowledged the Council's differences with me on this issue and attempted to reach a consensus. Recognizing that we both have the best interests of citizens at heart, I urge you to seek common ground and move forward together. Once implemented, the contract with Greater Southeast Hospital must be funded and enabling legislation, which abolishes the PBC must be implemented. Additional PBC funding is at odds with these imperatives.

Including the PBC provision in the supplemental bill poses great risks:

It jeopardizes passage of the entire bill, including $89 million of spending for critical priorities such as back pay for firefighters, pay raises being negotiated at this time with our unions, costs for Medicaid including significant payments to District hospitals and the government's move back into the Wilson building.

It sends negative signals to the bond markets, which have already indicated uneasiness over the extended debate over the PBC.

To opponents of self-government and others who question the city's ability to manage its affairs, it undercuts home rule by inviting Congress to choose sides in a local issue.

To patients, it may cause anxiety about the stability of the health care safety net system upon which they rely.

While recognizing the strong feelings held by several council members about the new contract for health care, I urge you to support my removal of the PBC funding from the supplemental appropriation. At a time when we need to join together to make a successful transition to a hew and improved healthcare system, trying to direct more money to the PBC diverts our attention and energy from the task at hand. In addition, pulling the supplemental appropriation process into the healthcare debate risks considerable collateral damage to the city's overall budgetary, financial, and political standing. Let's move forward together -- as one city -- to ensure that we have the healthiest citizens in America.

Anthony A. Williams

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