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Taxpayers for Common Sense
Letter to the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on the District of Columbia and Press Release
July 15, 1998




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Taxpayers for Common Sense
651 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Washington DC 20003

For Immediate Release July 15, 1998

Contact: Brian Hughes
202/ 546-8500 x104

Davis Urged to Review Projections on DC Convention Center

Taxpayers Concerned With Federal Liability for Cost Overruns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a review of draft U.S General Accounting Office (GAO) findings on the proposed DC Convention Center, Taxpayers for Common Sense is encouraging Representative Thomas Davis, Chairman of the House District of Columbia Subcommittee, to delay funding authority for the project.

“The GAO has raised very serious concerns about cost overruns and the nation’s taxpayers would likely be asked to underwrite the excess spending,” said Ralph DeGennaro, Executive Director of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “We are asking the chairman and his subcommittee to consider the full ramifications of moving forward with the project at this time.”

While the original projected cost is $650 million, the GAO report — expected to be released today — indicates the price tag may escalate to between $708 million and $846 million. The Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA) will have to pay for overruns with increased taxes or a federal bailout.

DeGennaro continued, “Short of a delay, we urge Congress to enforce a strict $650 million cap on WCCA’s borrowing authority. A clear signal must be sent that wasteful spending will not be written off by the nation's taxpayers.”

NOTE: Attached is a copy of the letter sent by Taxpayers for Common Sense to Chairman Davis and the District of Columbia Subcommittee.

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a politically independent organization founded in 1995 that works to cut wasteful spending, subsidies. and sax breaks through research and citizen education.

Control the DC Convention Center Funding!

July 15, 1998

The Honorable Thomas Davis, Chairman
District of Columbia Subcommittee
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Taxpayers for Common Sense encourages you and your committee colleagues to consider today’s GAO report on the D.C. Convention Center project. We ask you to at least delay expanded borrowing authority for any agency or organization until the full impact to federal taxpayers from the projected overruns are considered.

If you proceed with approving financial authority for the project, Taxpayers for Common Sense urges you to impose a strict funding cap on the D.C. Convention Center project as proposed by the Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA). While the WCCA claims the project will cost only $650 million, the convention center's costs may increase dramatically — final costs are projected from $708 million up to $846 million in total funding needs according to GAO.

Stop this now by allowing the Washington Convention Center Authority to borrow no more than $650 million for the convention center. Use the spending level set by WCCA and don’t let cost overruns overwhelm the project.

The GAO tells us the new convention center has no guaranteed maximum price. This means that as the costs escalate, taxes or federal funding are likely to increase as well. Current plans already include new taxes on all small businesses, restaurants and hotels in D.C. By enforcing a hard spending cap, Congress can force the WCCA to be fiscally responsible with taxes already committed to the project. It will also work to protect federal taxpayers from paying hundreds of millions of dollars for a bailout years down the road.

Send a clear signal to the WCCA that your committee will not support federal funds, now or in the future, to bail out wasteful spending for this convention center. Cost overruns, should they occur, should not be written off to the federal government!

If you have any questions, please call Dana Mulhauser at (202) 546-8500 ext. 110.


Ralph DeGennaro
Executive Director

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