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HomeNewsArchivesTURNBULL, UNIONS WANT SENATE TO RECONSIDER BOND

TURNBULL, UNIONS WANT SENATE TO RECONSIDER BOND

Gov. Charles Turnbull went on the offensive Monday two days after the Senate rejected his $130 million bond proposal.
Turnbull repeated the dire message his financial officials gave to senators on Friday that some 2,500 government workers will have to be laid off if nearly $40 million isn’t found.
The administration has said the bond issue is needed to pay loans, vendor debts and owed income taxes. But more importantly it would allow the government to meet its $39 million payroll for December.
The bonds would also give the administration time to implement its deficit-reduction plan, which must trim $54 million from the fiscal year 2000 budget.
Turnbull said he met with his Cabinet officials over the weekend and directed them to begin eliminating vacant positions, part time, per diem, temporary, exempt and some classified employees.
He said his administration produced a list of "hundreds and hundreds" of people to lay off.
"Let me be very clear," Turnbull said in a statement Monday afternoon. "In taking these steps to reduce the budget by $54 million, we must not lose sight of the fact that without Senate approval of my bill to authorize the sale of bonds to bridge an expected $39 million shortfall in December, I will be forced to implement additional personnel cuts to reduce the payroll of the government by a substantial number of employees."
Turnbull also met with union leaders over the weekend to discuss the possibility of submitting a reworked bond proposal to the Senate. Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said the vote to reject Turnbull’s bond shouldn’t have been taken on Friday.
Minus the bond proceeds there are no immediate plans to enhance government revenue, which is the responsibility of the Legislature, Morales added.
"This is our fight now. It is no longer the Legislature’s," he said.
Meanwhile, Morales said the private sector in the Virgin Islands is not capable of absorbing the results of a mass government layoff.
"There is no private market to send these people to," he said. "This isn’t New York or New Jersey, where they could go upstate to get a job."
Sen. Gregory Bennerson dismissed comments that the Legislature hadn’t come up with ideas to generate revenue for the government. He added that the bond proposal did nothing to address the long-range fiscal plan of the territory.
"How can I vote on a measure that the Legislature’s post auditor considers ridiculous and short-sighted," he asked. "If we were to address all of the debts of this government, then I will give my support."
Luther Renee, an economist at the University of the Virgin Islands, said the Legislature’s failure to support the governor was a message of no-confidence in the administration.
"It reflects a lack of leadership" on Turnbull’s part, he said. "Particularly in the governor’s economic recovery plan."
To show his conviction, however, Renee said the governor may well lay off some government workers and then resubmit a similar bond package to the Legislature.
"He could carry out some layoffs to show the Legislature he is serious," Renee said.
In his statement, Turnbull urged senators to reconsider their vote so he can secure the necessary funds to prevent deep personnel cuts.
"We never envisioned sending home 2,500 people at one time," Turnbull said in a subsequent interview.
The vote on the bond was tied 7-7, with Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus absent. The tie caused the proposal to die on the floor of the Senate.

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Gov. Charles Turnbull went on the offensive Monday two days after the Senate rejected his $130 million bond proposal.
Turnbull repeated the dire message his financial officials gave to senators on Friday that some 2,500 government workers will have to be laid off if nearly $40 million isn’t found.
The administration has said the bond issue is needed to pay loans, vendor debts and owed income taxes. But more importantly it would allow the government to meet its $39 million payroll for December.
The bonds would also give the administration time to implement its deficit-reduction plan, which must trim $54 million from the fiscal year 2000 budget.
Turnbull said he met with his Cabinet officials over the weekend and directed them to begin eliminating vacant positions, part time, per diem, temporary, exempt and some classified employees.
He said his administration produced a list of "hundreds and hundreds" of people to lay off.
"Let me be very clear," Turnbull said in a statement Monday afternoon. "In taking these steps to reduce the budget by $54 million, we must not lose sight of the fact that without Senate approval of my bill to authorize the sale of bonds to bridge an expected $39 million shortfall in December, I will be forced to implement additional personnel cuts to reduce the payroll of the government by a substantial number of employees."
Turnbull also met with union leaders over the weekend to discuss the possibility of submitting a reworked bond proposal to the Senate. Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said the vote to reject Turnbull’s bond shouldn’t have been taken on Friday.
Minus the bond proceeds there are no immediate plans to enhance government revenue, which is the responsibility of the Legislature, Morales added.
"This is our fight now. It is no longer the Legislature’s," he said.
Meanwhile, Morales said the private sector in the Virgin Islands is not capable of absorbing the results of a mass government layoff.
"There is no private market to send these people to," he said. "This isn’t New York or New Jersey, where they could go upstate to get a job."
Sen. Gregory Bennerson dismissed comments that the Legislature hadn’t come up with ideas to generate revenue for the government. He added that the bond proposal did nothing to address the long-range fiscal plan of the territory.
"How can I vote on a measure that the Legislature’s post auditor considers ridiculous and short-sighted," he asked. "If we were to address all of the debts of this government, then I will give my support."
Luther Renee, an economist at the University of the Virgin Islands, said the Legislature’s failure to support the governor was a message of no-confidence in the administration.
"It reflects a lack of leadership" on Turnbull’s part, he said. "Particularly in the governor’s economic recovery plan."
To show his conviction, however, Renee said the governor may well lay off some government workers and then resubmit a similar bond package to the Legislature.
"He could carry out some layoffs to show the Legislature he is serious," Renee said.
In his statement, Turnbull urged senators to reconsider their vote so he can secure the necessary funds to prevent deep personnel cuts.
"We never envisioned sending home 2,500 people at one time," Turnbull said in a subsequent interview.
The vote on the bond was tied 7-7, with Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus absent. The tie caused the proposal to die on the floor of the Senate.