DC Mayor Discounts Limits On Summer Youth Employment Program

When is a budget not a budget? Apparently, when Mayor Fenty doesn’t like it. Yesterday’s Washington Post reports that this year’s Summer Youth Employment Program wound up costing $41 million–considerably more than the City Council originally approved.

The SYEP appropriation for next year is $20 million–for a program limited to six weeks and a maximum of 21,000 participants. But the Mayor reportedly said he’s determined to find a way around the caps.

Set aside the question of whether the SYEP should be expanded or rather refocused on quality instead of quantity, as experts have recommended. Last time I checked, programs were supposed to operate within their approved budgets. If a chief executive wanted more money, he was supposed to go back to the legislature and ask for it.

And last time I checked, the Council had made deep cuts in crucial safety net programs to balance the city’s budget. It might well have to close yet another budget gap. This seems hardly the time for ignoring any expenditure cap–let alone one designed to ensure that D.C. youth have a properly supervised, skill-building work experience.


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