Questions and Answers
1. What is the Committee for the Capital City proposing?
Answer: The city of Washington be returned to the State of Maryland from whence it came. A small federal enclave, consisting of the Capital Grounds, the Mall and the White House. would remain as the "District of Columbia" and be ruled directly by Congress. The current District, where people live, would become a city in the State of Maryland.
2. Why would Maryland want the city of Washington , with all its problems?
A: Washington is a great international city, home to the national government of the United States, a political, media and financial center unique in the world. It is also a cultural mecca, with many world renowned museums, performance groups and other treasures. The city would be an asset to any state as an attraction for business, tourists, and the financial investment needed to compete in the global economy.
Maryland, which surrounds the city on three sides, cannot escape Washington's problems. If Washington sinks Maryland will be hurt, because the city is a major employer and a source of wealth for the state. If Washington is unable to care for its poor residents, they will migrate, many of them to nearby Maryland. Whatever solution is proposed for the city, it is very likely to involve costs to the state of Maryland, through a non-resident tax or other mechanisms. By absorbing Washington into the state, Maryland will assure that it benefits from the riches of the city, which will more than offset the additional costs.
3. Why would residents of Washington want to be part of Maryland?
A: As citizens of Maryland, Washington residents would have full voting rights for the first time. They would have voting representation, though Maryland's Senators and Representatives, in the U.S. Congress, as well as representation in the state capital in Annapolis. They would no longer be subject to the whims of an often uncaring Congress.
4. Wouldn't Washington residents be giving up the distinction of being citizens of the nation's capital?
A: No. They would still live in the nation's capital, but it would be a city in Maryland. In virtually all democratic nations around the world the residents of the capital city have voting representation in the national legislature, often by virtue of being residents of the state or other political jurisdiction in which the capital city is located. All Washington resident would be giving up is the "distinction" of being the only United States citizens who pay federal income taxes and are not represented in Congress.
5. Wouldn't statehood for the District of Columbia be a better solution?
A: Statehood would provide full political rights and greater taxing authority for the District, but statehood is not likely to become a reality. Most Americans think of Washington as a city , not a state, and the chances that Congress will give the half million citizens of the District of Columbia equal representation with states like California and Texas is remote. As part of the State of Maryland citizens of Washington will have the same political representation as residents of other cities.
6. What are the economic ramifications of retrocession?
A: Washington residents are currently about the most heavily taxed in the nation. They pay for a local government that has all the responsibilities of a municipality, a state and a county. In fact more than 75% of the total cost of local government is for non-municipal functions. As a part of Maryland, District residents would be subject to Maryland taxes at Maryland tax rates, which are lower, and would transfer to the state the responsibility for providing state functions.
For Maryland the cost of taking on the state functions will be relatively minor, because it is already providing these services to state residents. For example, Maryland issues license tags to some 800,000 vehicles; adding another 200,000 vehicles for Washington will not be an undue burden. Washington residents paying Maryland taxes, however, will add substantially to the revenues of the state.
Less measurable, but no less real, would be the economic benefits to Maryland of being the home to the nation's capital--benefits in the form of business development, increases in tourism, increased usage of transportation and port facilities, the added value of having a very large economic region within the borders of the state.
7. Which state functions would Maryland pick up?
A: Among the major changes: Maryland would be responsible for prisons, licensing, Medicaid, higher education. The University of the District of Columbia would become part a Washington campus of the University of Maryland. Washington car owners would have Maryland drivers' licenses and tags. Washington physicians and hospitals would be licensed by Maryland authorities.
8. Which municipal functions would Washington retain?
A: The city of Washington would continue to be responsible for elementary and secondary schools ( but under the supervision of the Maryland educational authorities), police (Maryland state police would also have jurisdiction in the city), fire protection, trash collection, local road maintenance. The city of Washington would have the same local governmental responsibilities and authority that the city of Baltimore has.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Created: Saturday, August 24, 1996, 6:49:17 PM
Last Updated: Saturday, August 24, 1996, 6:49:17 PM