News & Politics

Gray Vetoes DC Budget Over “Yoga Tax” and Streetcar Funding

The DC Council probably has the votes to override him, though.

Probably going to be taxed next year. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Apparently the so-called “yoga tax” the DC Council inserted into the District’s fiscal 2015 budget is too much of a stretch for Mayor Vince Gray, who vetoed the Council’s spending plan Friday afternoon.

In a letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Gray writes that in addition to the levying of sales taxes on personal services such as fitness classes, he is also using his veto pen to oppose the Council’s removal of property tax cuts for seniors and longtime residents, the repeal of a first-time homebuyer tax credit, and the halving of long-term streetcar funding.

Gray is also asking Mendelson to delay the council’s summer vacation, set to begin Tuesday, by a month so council members and the mayor can write a “stronger compromise budget.”

Gray needs at least five council members to vote in support of his veto; so far, he’s only got Tommy Wells, who opposed the budget over its streetcar cuts. Mayoral candidates Muriel Bowser and David Catania, one of whom could inherit DC’s next budget, opposed the sales-tax expansion but voted for the overall budget.

Yogis and other fitness buffs might be encouraged by Gray’s veto, but they’ve got a heavy load of politicking to do over the weekend. The council, which approved the budget last month by a 12-1 margin, will hold its override vote on Monday. Mendelson’s chief of staff, Karen Sibert, expects Gray’s office to make a heavy push over the next few days.

“I’m sure they’ve been roaming the hallways,” she says.

Read Gray’s letter below:

Mayor Gray's FY 2015 Budget Veto Letter

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.