The Turnbull administration finally has the authority it needs to close on the recently passed $300 million bond authority with President Clinton's signing of Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christensens bill.
The bill, which was signed Thursday evening, is intended to save the V.I. government on the cost associated with the planned borrowing, as well as allow the government to meet its current obligations and provide sufficient cash reserves to operate the government.
Had the V.I. Legislature not given Gov. Charles Turnbull authority to issue the bonds, the administration said it would have been $39 million short of being able to meet the governments payroll by the middle of November. Without the funding the bonds will provide, Turnbull threatened as many as 2,500 government layoffs.
Turnbull originally asked the Legislature for the authority to borrow $130 million. But on Oct. 12, senators voted 12-3 to amend the governors bill to authorize the Public Finance Authority to issue up to $300 million in bonds to fund a working capital loan.
Some $136 million will go toward tax refunds; $46 million to pay vendors; $30 million for bonding services and escrow; $30 million to pay Banco Popular; and $15 million to pay the government retirement fund.The balance will go toward meeting payroll.
Christensen said that now that the bill has been signed, it will provide an infusion of cash into the territory and avoid layoffs of government employees.
"It is incumbent upon us to direct our attention to the difficult task of putting in place measures that will reduce our spending and allow us to reduce our growing deficit," Christensen said.
Christensen submitted the bill to Congress authorizing the territory to use bond proceeds for operating expenses at the behest of Turnbull. It was the delegate's first bill to be signed into law on its own.