DC Budget Challenges

Mayor Fenty released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2010 last Friday. It’s entitled “Meeting the Challenge.” And, indeed, you’ll meet a challenge if you try to read it–unless, of course, you’re an expert in the D.C. budget and have insider information about what lies behind the figures.

Fortunately, the District has local nonprofits that will tell us what the budget means for key programs that affect homeless and other poor residents. So I’ll be writing more about this in the days ahead.

But shouldn’t the budget be reasonably clear to concerned citizens? Shouldn’t we be able to find out how much the Mayor proposes for specific programs and services we care about? Shouldn’t we be told what proposed funding levels will support?

Last year, staff at DC Fiscal Policy Institute wrote a column on the need for a more transparent budget. I find this year’s budget as opaque as the last.

The Fenty administration needs to understand that transparency involves something more than putting government documents on a website. The documents have to be clear enough to enable us to understand what our government plans to do so that we can participate in the decision-making process.

The administration knows how to do a better job. Its new site for uses of federal stimulus funds gives us relevant information in language we can understand and even opportunities for input.

So how about a budget summary and supplements that do the same for the entire D.C. budget?

3 Responses to DC Budget Challenges

  1. […] my recent rant suggests, I’ve looked forward to the toolkit to shed light on prospects for critical safety […]

  2. […] in March, I ranted on the challenges of understanding Mayor Fenty’s proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget. They […]

  3. […] document and an obscure process. As Kathryn Baer describes the budget proposal document on her Poverty and Policy blog, “It’s entitled “Meeting the Challenge.” And, indeed, you’ll meet a challenge if you […]

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