May 20, 2006 – Sections of the supplemental budget bill passed by the Senate last month would create "upheaval" in the government, usurp the authority of the Revised Organic Act or would only be a "piecemeal" approach to solving more complex problems, according to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
In a recent letter sent to Sen. Lorraine L. Berry, Turnbull explained that some of the appropriations included in the bill would not have been enough to fund certain items. It is because of these reasons, he said, that he line-item vetoed 11 sections of the bill.
The vetoed sections would have, among other things, funded a cross-cultural exchange, transferred money appropriated in the 2006 budget to the Economic Development Authority to develop a master restoration plan for the Savan area on St. Thomas, and would allow longtime contract employees at the territory's two hospitals to pay into the Government Employees Retirement System if they decide to become permanent.
Three other amendments, which would have helped to pay retroactive wages owed to unionized government workers, were also vetoed. The amendments called for:
–an appropriation of $24,490 to pay outstanding retroactive wages for members of the United Industrial Workers Service, Transportation, Professional and Government Workers of North America, of the Seafarers International Union of North America, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters District/NMU, AFL-CIO (SIU) House Residents.
–an appropriation of $110,076 to pay outstanding retroactive wages for members of the United Steel Workers of America enforcement officers.
–an appropriation of $308, 885 to pay outstanding retroactive wages for members of the International Association of Firefighters Support Staff.
In his letter, Turnbull called the appropriations a "piecemeal" approach to solving the retroactive wage problem, which would cause "upheaval" among the collective bargaining units. He said that the development of a comprehensive plan to address retroactive wages for all unions would be more effective.
Furthermore, Turnbull said the amount owed to the Steelworkers is actually $72,864.
Turnbull also line-item vetoed three sections of the bill mandating that Notices of Personnel Action (NOPAs) for non-exempt employees do not have to be signed by the governor. During a full Legislative session last month, senators said the amendment would speed up the employment process, since NOPAs "tend to linger on the governor's desk" (See "Supplemental Budget Bill Approved with Amendments").
However, Turnbull said in his letter that removing the governor's ability to approve and transfer employees within the executive branch usurps the authority of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, which states that the governor must sign all NOPAs.
Turnbull also vetoed sections of the bill which sought to prohibit the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs from conducting more than one inspection on taxi vehicles in the territory and to appropriate $150,000 to the Police Department to purchase the building it rents in the Rainbow Complex on St. Croix.
Turnbull wrote that the purchase price for the Police building is more than $3 million.
The cuts bring the total amount of money appropriated in the bill down to approximately $16 million.
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