Navajo Nation Puts $2.1 Million into Summer Youth Employment Program

On July 1, Navajo Nation Russell Begaye signed legislation approving over $2.1 million dollars to be allocated to 110 Navajo Chapters for Summer Youth Employment.

Published July 4, 2017

WINDOW ROCK – On Saturday, July 1, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed legislation approving emergency supplemental funding for over $2.1 million dollars from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance (UUFB) to benefit 110 Navajo Chapters for Summer Youth Employment.

Legislation CJN-34-17 approved over $2.1 million dollars and appropriated $35,000 to each chapter for the purposes of Summer Youth Employment.

“Vice President and I are excited to have approved $2.1 million dollars for both college and high school students to work this summer.  We know they depend on this money to supplement funds they need for college and also for supplies that high school students need,” President Begaye said. “The legislation we approved provides a significant amount of money to go towards Summer Youth Employment. We are asking our students to work through their respective chapters to secure summer employment.”

In signing, President Begaye is holding the chapters to measures of financial accountability written into the legislation. The legislation states that any chapter with more than $35,000 in its Summer Youth Employment Fund is not eligible to receive an appropriation unless and until those balances are spent toward their intended purposes.

A spreadsheet provided by the Division of Community Development exemplified that of the 110 Navajo Chapters, many still had Summer Youth Employment fund balances on their books.  The total of remaining Summer Youth Employment funds, still remaining between all five Navajo Agencies, is over $1.8 million dollars.

“We are encouraging Chapters who still have funds remaining to use these funds for their intended purposes,” Vice President Nez said. “Summer Youth Employment is critical in providing work experience and training to our most vital resource, our youth.”

The legislation also states that Chapters with negative balances will receive the maximum appropriation of $35,000. However, these Chapters are required to bring their accounts current before receiving the appropriation.

President Begaye line-item vetoed a separate legislation requesting supplemental funding from the UUFB for $1.4 million dollars to be allocated to Agency Offices of Dine Youth (ODY) for the same purposes of Summer Youth Employment.

“We did veto $1.4 million dollars that would have provided central government programs allocations for the same purposes.  We are asking our central government programs to work with their chapters in providing Summer Youth Employment to those who have applied through ODY,” President Begaye said.

As the Navajo Nation moves forward into formulating the FY 2018 Comprehensive Budget, President Begaye and Vice President Nez are being mindful in addressing any possible budgetary shortfalls.

“Both appropriations would equal $3,561,748 from the UUFB and would leave less than $3 million in the Fund. However, there are over $6 million dollars pending in separate legislations seeking appropriations from the UUFB,” Vice President Nez said.

“With our impending shortfall, we must also balance appropriations against all the services the Navajo Nation provides for our people. This includes assistance to our elders, veterans, and employees,” said President Begaye. “Therefore, in balancing all the needs for our people and for the Navajo government, I decided to exercise my line-item veto authority.”

As Youth is a critical pillar of the Begaye-Nez administration, President Begaye said he is grateful to be able to provide $2.1 million dollars to the local governments and communities.

“I feel it’s important to keep our local governments empowered to provide summer employment for youth,” President Begaye said.

OPVP urges all college and high school youth to contact their chapters for summer employment opportunities.

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