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DeJongh Vetoes Parts of 2008 Budget Plan

Oct. 11, 2007 — Though a majority of the fiscal year 2008 budget bills have been signed into law, Gov. John deJongh Jr. did put his veto pen to work on Wednesday, cutting a few sections of the $835.2 million general fund spending plan passed by the Senate late last month.
When the budget was submitted by deJongh in May, general fund appropriations totaled some $799.2 million. That figure gradually rose as the proposal made its way through the Legislature, factoring in additional projects and expenses,along with increases in property tax projections and a $10 million reimbursement from the federal government.
In a letter sent to Senate President Usie R. Richards, deJongh said he would be leaving most of the proposal intact, but would veto sections that could put the general fund portion of the budget out of balance. Also vetoed was a budget bill transferring $10 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the general fund — a contribution that had initially come down at $16 million.
Senators pared down the transfer during the budget mark-up process, using $6 million from the fund for road repair projects in both districts. In his letter to Richards, deJongh said that he "recognized the urgency for certain road projects to be initiated," but noted that there are currently $40 million worth of outstanding road projects that still have to be completed.
"During my term, my administration will look for ways to fund these projects through diligent management of General Fund money and special funds, such as the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund," deJongh wrote.
A significant chunk of the bills signed into law by deJongh either transfer money from various government funds into the general fund, or make appropriations from those funds to government departments and agencies. A few of the bills also appropriate money from the general fund to the government's semi-autonomous agencies or smaller divisions, which are not generally included in the overall fiscal year executive budget proposal.
Working through sections of the fiscal year 2008 executive budget, however, deJongh line-item vetoed portions that would have provided approximately $1 million in subsidies for the territory's franchise ferry companies.
"My administration will work with the affected companies throughout the year and continue to support them in the provision of timely, consistent and affordable ferry services to Virgin Islands residents and visitors o the territory," deJongh wrote. "But my commitment is based on the expectation that these companies will provide the management support and financial data required for us to ensure the appropriate use of public funds in support of their business activities."
DeJongh also line-item vetoed a section of the budget that schedules swearing-in ceremonies for Constitutional Convention delegates for Oct. 10, and gives the group about a year to come up with a draft document. Since the date has already passed, the section is moot, deJongh wrote in his letter to Richards.
"Further, only recently has the issue of the pending litigation surrounding the election of the delegates been concluded," he added, referencing the months-long legal battle between St. John resident Harry Daniel and board of elections members. "Therefore, it is appropriate that the Convention delegates select their own dates for meeting in a manner that allows them to meet the deadline imposed by statute for completing a constitution."
Line-item vetoes also extended to sections of the budget that sought to make two appropriations included in the fiscal year 2007 budget proposal — money intended to cover the Estate St. Georges settlement and engineering plans for the construction of new V.I. schools — available until expended.
The money for the St. Georges Homes settlement has already been released, deJongh explained, and funds for the engineering plans have also been set aside.
DeJongh also vetoed a portion of another budget bill that appropriates $1 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the recently established magistrate division of the V.I. Superior Court. Funds for the division were already appropriated in another bill, deJongh explained, saying that the $1 million was intended as a contribution to the government's Crisis Intervention Fund.
In his letter, deJongh also reminded senators that they have not taken action on five items originally included in the FY 2008 budget proposal:
— a $1.5 million appropriation that would cover a portion of the contract executed with the territory's third-party fiduciary;
— a proposal that calls for a three-percent increase in employer contributions to the Government Employees' Retirement System;
— enabling legislation that sets up a new Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation;
— enabling legislation that transfers housing programs under the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority; and
— enabling legislation that transfers the V.I. Energy Office from DPNR to the Office of the Governor.
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Oct. 11, 2007 -- Though a majority of the fiscal year 2008 budget bills have been signed into law, Gov. John deJongh Jr. did put his veto pen to work on Wednesday, cutting a few sections of the $835.2 million general fund spending plan passed by the Senate late last month.
When the budget was submitted by deJongh in May, general fund appropriations totaled some $799.2 million. That figure gradually rose as the proposal made its way through the Legislature, factoring in additional projects and expenses,along with increases in property tax projections and a $10 million reimbursement from the federal government.
In a letter sent to Senate President Usie R. Richards, deJongh said he would be leaving most of the proposal intact, but would veto sections that could put the general fund portion of the budget out of balance. Also vetoed was a budget bill transferring $10 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the general fund -- a contribution that had initially come down at $16 million.
Senators pared down the transfer during the budget mark-up process, using $6 million from the fund for road repair projects in both districts. In his letter to Richards, deJongh said that he "recognized the urgency for certain road projects to be initiated," but noted that there are currently $40 million worth of outstanding road projects that still have to be completed.
"During my term, my administration will look for ways to fund these projects through diligent management of General Fund money and special funds, such as the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund," deJongh wrote.
A significant chunk of the bills signed into law by deJongh either transfer money from various government funds into the general fund, or make appropriations from those funds to government departments and agencies. A few of the bills also appropriate money from the general fund to the government's semi-autonomous agencies or smaller divisions, which are not generally included in the overall fiscal year executive budget proposal.
Working through sections of the fiscal year 2008 executive budget, however, deJongh line-item vetoed portions that would have provided approximately $1 million in subsidies for the territory's franchise ferry companies.
"My administration will work with the affected companies throughout the year and continue to support them in the provision of timely, consistent and affordable ferry services to Virgin Islands residents and visitors o the territory," deJongh wrote. "But my commitment is based on the expectation that these companies will provide the management support and financial data required for us to ensure the appropriate use of public funds in support of their business activities."
DeJongh also line-item vetoed a section of the budget that schedules swearing-in ceremonies for Constitutional Convention delegates for Oct. 10, and gives the group about a year to come up with a draft document. Since the date has already passed, the section is moot, deJongh wrote in his letter to Richards.
"Further, only recently has the issue of the pending litigation surrounding the election of the delegates been concluded," he added, referencing the months-long legal battle between St. John resident Harry Daniel and board of elections members. "Therefore, it is appropriate that the Convention delegates select their own dates for meeting in a manner that allows them to meet the deadline imposed by statute for completing a constitution."
Line-item vetoes also extended to sections of the budget that sought to make two appropriations included in the fiscal year 2007 budget proposal -- money intended to cover the Estate St. Georges settlement and engineering plans for the construction of new V.I. schools -- available until expended.
The money for the St. Georges Homes settlement has already been released, deJongh explained, and funds for the engineering plans have also been set aside.
DeJongh also vetoed a portion of another budget bill that appropriates $1 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the recently established magistrate division of the V.I. Superior Court. Funds for the division were already appropriated in another bill, deJongh explained, saying that the $1 million was intended as a contribution to the government's Crisis Intervention Fund.
In his letter, deJongh also reminded senators that they have not taken action on five items originally included in the FY 2008 budget proposal:
-- a $1.5 million appropriation that would cover a portion of the contract executed with the territory's third-party fiduciary;
-- a proposal that calls for a three-percent increase in employer contributions to the Government Employees' Retirement System;
-- enabling legislation that sets up a new Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation;
-- enabling legislation that transfers housing programs under the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority; and
-- enabling legislation that transfers the V.I. Energy Office from DPNR to the Office of the Governor.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.