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Government Employees Spared Paying Higher Share of Health Insurance

Sept. 16, 2008 — The Finance Committee of the Senate plowed through 25 routine appropriations bills Tuesday, killing a bill to increase government employees' share of health insurance and moving out 23 with a favorable recommendation.
Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s budget proposal for the Personnel Department contains a provision increasing the employee contribution to health insurance from 35 to 40 percent, reducing the government's share from 65 to 60 percent. The provision raised concerns from several committee members during budget hearings in July. (See "Process Nearly Complete for Figuring Retroactive Government Raises.")
"The Legislature decided we did not want to pass on that cost to government employees at this time," said committee Chairman Terrence "Positive" Nelson. "The cost share is codified in law, so the administration attempted to adjust it in the budget bill."
Voting to hold the bill in committee were Nelson, Sens. Liston A. Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville and James Weber III. Sen. Neville A. James voted no and Sen. Ronald Russell abstained. All members were present.
Also held in committee was another act allowing a contribution from the General Fund to the Health Insurance Special Projects Fund.
"There really is no Health Insurance Special Projects Fund, so this is unnecessary," Nelson said.
Voting to hold the bill were Davis, Dowe, Weber and Nelson. Voting no were Figueroa-Serville, James and Russell.
Early in the hearing, Nelson led the senators in an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Figueroa-Serville, who just turned 34.
The following bills were approved and will now be considered in the Rules Committee:
— Bill 27-0224: An act for the operation of the government of the Virgin Islands during the upcoming fiscal year;
— 225: an act appropriating money from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and other purposes;
— 226: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
— 227: operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund;
— 228: an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund;
— 229: appropriations from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor;
— 230: a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund;
— 231: a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and other purposes at the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance;
— 232: an appropriation of $5 million from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund;
— 233: operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee;
— 234: an appropriation to the Public Services Commission for operating expenses;
— 235: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the government of the Virgin Islands;
— 0236: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund;
— 237: an appropriation from the Tourism Advertisement Revolving Fund to the governor's office, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works, the V.I. Waste Management Authority and the V.I. Police Department;
— 238: salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands;
— 239: appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund, which is remitted rum excise taxes;
— 240: $16.5 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
— 241: $5.4 million from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System;
— 242: funds for V.I. Taxicab Commission operating expenses;
— 243: $32.3 million from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority;
— 244: $2 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund;
— 245: $500,000 from the General Fund as a contribution to the Agriculture Revolving Fund;
— 248: operating expenses of the Legislature; and
— 249: operating expenses of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands, the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council and the Office of the Public Defender.
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Sept. 16, 2008 -- The Finance Committee of the Senate plowed through 25 routine appropriations bills Tuesday, killing a bill to increase government employees' share of health insurance and moving out 23 with a favorable recommendation.
Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s budget proposal for the Personnel Department contains a provision increasing the employee contribution to health insurance from 35 to 40 percent, reducing the government's share from 65 to 60 percent. The provision raised concerns from several committee members during budget hearings in July. (See "Process Nearly Complete for Figuring Retroactive Government Raises.")
"The Legislature decided we did not want to pass on that cost to government employees at this time," said committee Chairman Terrence "Positive" Nelson. "The cost share is codified in law, so the administration attempted to adjust it in the budget bill."
Voting to hold the bill in committee were Nelson, Sens. Liston A. Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville and James Weber III. Sen. Neville A. James voted no and Sen. Ronald Russell abstained. All members were present.
Also held in committee was another act allowing a contribution from the General Fund to the Health Insurance Special Projects Fund.
"There really is no Health Insurance Special Projects Fund, so this is unnecessary," Nelson said.
Voting to hold the bill were Davis, Dowe, Weber and Nelson. Voting no were Figueroa-Serville, James and Russell.
Early in the hearing, Nelson led the senators in an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Figueroa-Serville, who just turned 34.
The following bills were approved and will now be considered in the Rules Committee:
-- Bill 27-0224: An act for the operation of the government of the Virgin Islands during the upcoming fiscal year;
-- 225: an act appropriating money from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and other purposes;
-- 226: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
-- 227: operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund;
-- 228: an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund;
-- 229: appropriations from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor;
-- 230: a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund;
-- 231: a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and other purposes at the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance;
-- 232: an appropriation of $5 million from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund;
-- 233: operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee;
-- 234: an appropriation to the Public Services Commission for operating expenses;
-- 235: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the government of the Virgin Islands;
-- 0236: an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund;
-- 237: an appropriation from the Tourism Advertisement Revolving Fund to the governor's office, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works, the V.I. Waste Management Authority and the V.I. Police Department;
-- 238: salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands;
-- 239: appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund, which is remitted rum excise taxes;
-- 240: $16.5 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
-- 241: $5.4 million from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System;
-- 242: funds for V.I. Taxicab Commission operating expenses;
-- 243: $32.3 million from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority;
-- 244: $2 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund;
-- 245: $500,000 from the General Fund as a contribution to the Agriculture Revolving Fund;
-- 248: operating expenses of the Legislature; and
-- 249: operating expenses of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands, the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council and the Office of the Public Defender.
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.