D.C. Council Drops Ball on Furloughs

WI Staff | 5/4/2012, 9:46 a.m.

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) agreed to a proposal by Mayor Vincent Gray that the city should pay its workers for furlough days that were ordered as a result of a then shortfall in the District budget.

But the Council this week voted not to go along with the leadership and that was a mistake. D.C. government employees were not paid for Presidents Day, Emancipation Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day in 2011. Surprise surpluses that were generated during the latter part of 2011 made it possible for the employees to get what they are due.The cost to the city is $22 million and is the central part of a $64 million supplemental budget that was submitted to the Council by Gray.

While there has been wrangling about whether it should be just two days instead of four days, good common sense appeared to be winning out not only because of the power of the public employees unions, but a feeling that the city is in good enough shape fiscally to do the payout.

The failure of the Council to approve the Brown and Gray deal shows they are not interested in what District government employees need. They are only interested in scoring political points and in making the city's top political leaders look bad.

The District is unique among American cities and even states -- it is looking good financially. Some cities and states are near bankruptcy or are in no shape to give their employees even cost-of-living adjustments.

Brown showed fine leadership when he said he would not take his pay, and he covertly encouraged his colleagues on the Council to do the same. Unfortunately, District residents won't be able to fully appreciate that because of the short-sightedness of the majority of Council members. The city's employees and residents deserve better.