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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, April 14, 2024


The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the FYI bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
In response to statements being put forward that the 25th Legislature's Majority is disinterested in addressing the concerns of the labor unions or in charting viable solutions to the 2003 budget and fiscal crisis, Senator Douglas E. Canton, Jr., Majority Leader communicated the Senate Majority's response on behalf of his colleagues.
"From the very beginning of the 25th Legislature, this Majority has attempted to include all senators in formulating solutions to our present fiscal woes, both Majority and Minority. Presently, Majority members have been working feverishly to develop creative ways of addressing the state of our economy. Preparation of a workable budget proposal is extremely important at this time for both private sector and public sector interests.
We recognize that the private sector pays the taxes upon which the Government is able to provide services and make government payroll. As such, this Majority will not support imposition of taxes that would further dampen consumer spending in the territory. We will not support an increase in gross receipts tax, nor do we support imposition of a 10% surcharge on income tax liability, nor do we support a thirty-six hour employee workweek. These measures would have a constricting rather than expanding influence on the Virgin Islands economy. Unfortunately, Senate Minority members have presented a number of proposals to do just that. In particular, they propose a sales tax, coupled with a gross receipt tax, which would cause the Virgin Islands to lose its duty-free status, burden the struggling private sector, and generally further depress the V.I. economy. They also refer to a mystery corporation that will swoop in and save-the-day, generating tax and fee revenues for the Government to the tune of 86 million dollars, with a 300 million dollar initial investment. To date, there have been no licenses issued for this entity, nor any permits granted, nor any E.D.A. application approved. Even if this entity is poised to pursue all these pre-requisites, it is improbable that we will see any of the money from this operation in this fiscal year to help pull us out of the present fiscal situation.
Over the past three weeks, senators have been meeting with major stakeholders to receive their input on priorities and suggested means to address the impending economic crisis. We have spoken to agency leaders and commissioners, chambers of commerce, hotel and tourism associations, gasoline producers and distributors, Realtor associations and labor leaders, to name but a few. Over the past week, the Majority has been meeting to develop a budget that incorporates measures that would improve government operations and the generation of revenues. Some items being considered are removing impediments for revenue generating entities and accelerating the automation of government. It is anticipated that the budget proposal, which is in development, will be unveiled to the public at the Finance Committee meeting to be held on November 10th.
Despite all naysayers, the Majority caucus has worked towards having the collective body of senators be an active part of the budget process. We will get nowhere fast if we continue to delay address of such critically important matters by slinging arrows and calling names. The Majority has been working very hard to create a proposal that is least painful to our resident community. These untimely distractions only serve to delay the process and communicates mere speculation to the people. I again invite members of the minority caucus to work with us to ensure that their voice is heard. Cooperation is not a bad thing!"

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