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Budget vote delayed

(Published August 9, 1999)

A congressional vote on the compromise version of the Districtís fiscal 2000 budget has been put off until after Labor Day, when Congress returns from recess.

The decision to delay the vote followed intense lobbying against the measure by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who has urged President Clinton to veto the legislation if approved in its present form.

The compromise bill in-cludes so-called social riders prohibiting the D.C. government from spending local tax money on abortions or needle exchanges, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and legal attempts to gain voting rights in Congress for D.C. residents. The bill also would allow Bell Atlantic Mobile to erect two cellular phone towers in Rock Creek Park without local input.

The bill would allow D.C. officials to count and release the results of last yearís referendum on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, but it prevents the measure from becoming law if voters approved it.

The bill includes $6.8 billion in local funds and $429 million in federal funds. It provides $17 million for tuition assistance for D.C. high school graduates to attend out-of-state colleges, $5 million to promote adoption of foster children, $250,000 as a federal payment to the D.C. Department of Human Services, and $176 million for the office of the D.C. Corrections Trustee.

The bill provides about $100 million to D.C. courts and an additional $33 million to the courtís Office of Defender Services. About $94 million is earmarked for the Office of Offender Super-vision, which handles parole and probation. The bill also includes a $1 million federal payment to the D.C. police department.

The bill retains a congressional requirement that the city government set aside $150 million in a "rainy day" fund.

The bill also includes provisions giving siblings of charter school students preference in admission, and allowing charter schools easier access to funds for construction and repairs.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator