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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting Bill for Federal Aid to the District of Columbia

February 11, 1963

Dear Mr.__________:

I transmit herewith a proposed bill "To provide for increased Federal Government participation in meeting the costs of maintaining the Nation's Capital City and to authorize Federal loans to the District of Columbia for capital improvement programs."

The message which I sent to the Congress on January 18, 1963, transmitting the District of Columbia budget, explained the current crisis in the financial affairs of the District, and set out in some detail my proposal for both an immediate and a long-range solution. The proposed bill would implement two elements of my proposal-the increase in the authorization for the Federal payment to the District, and the authorization of additional borrowing from the Treasury.

The District Commissioners, who have cooperated in the development of this proposal and in the preparation of this draft bill, have moved promptly to implement the third element-the increases in local taxes. A major portion of these increases will also require legislative authorization. A draft bill for this purpose will be submitted to the Congress by the Commissioners.

Title I of the enclosed draft bill, which deals with the Federal payment to the District, would authorize a payment based on a formula reflecting what the Federal Government would pay if it were a taxable entity. Under this plan, the details of which were set out in my budget message, the authorized Federal payment in fiscal year 1964 would be approximately $53 million. It is estimated to increase to $67 million by fiscal year 1969, by reason of the estimated increased ownership and use of property in the District by the Federal Government, the anticipated increased level of local tax rates, and the expected increase in property values.

Title II of the proposed bill, which deals with the additional borrowing authority, proposes to authorize the District to borrow for general fund purposes from the Treasury up to 6% of the assessed value of real and personal property in the District. Under this proposal, a discussion of which was included in my budget message, the maximum general fund debt limit will be approximately $225 million in fiscal year 1964, and will rise to an estimated $275 million in fiscal year 1969.

Taken together with the increases in local taxes which are being proposed by the Commissioners, the proposed bill will not only resolve the immediate urgent needs of the District, but will also relieve the District's general fund financial problems for some years in the future. For fiscal year 1964, authorization of additional appropriations for both the annual payment and capital loans is an essential prerequisite for meeting even the minimum needs of the District--for education, for welfare and health, for public safety, and for capital improvements.

Activities of the Federal Government make large and increasing demands upon the District for space, facilities and services. The Government has an obligation to share fairly the District's burden in meeting the demands made upon it. Proper development of the Nation's Capital requires adequate financial resources, and I believe that enactment of this draft legislation is essential to the achievement of this objective. I therefore hope that early hearings will be held, and urge that favorable action be taken by the Congress on this important legislation.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

An act authorizing Federal aid to the District of Columbia (77 Stat. 130) was approved by the President on August 27, 1963.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting Bill for Federal Aid to the District of Columbia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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