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Courts Would Get More Funding Under Budget Changes

Sept. 17, 2008 — The Senate Rules Committee plowed through 24 appropriations bills Wednesday, adding several million for the territory's courts and over half a million for core Legislature staff salary increases, but sending the governor's $867.3 million budget to the floor largely intact.
The committee increased operating expenses of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands from $1.5 million to $5 million, and for the Superior Court from $26.6 million to $34.3 million, of which $7.5 million is for the nascent Magistrate Division, utilities and retroactive pay. The Judicial Council's $300,000 and the Office of the Public Defender's $3 million remain unchanged.
The committee voted to add $650,000 for central staff salary increases, bringing the appropriation from $19.8 million to $20.5 million.
While not changing the numbers, the committee amended a $2 million appropriation from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for capital improvements on St. Croix, earmarking the funds specifically for road repairs in Williams Delight.
"The people of Williams Delight may not be the wealthiest or most influential," Sen. Usie Richards said. "But as citizens of this territory, they have as much a right to good roads as anyone."
The Legislature has appropriated funds for Williams Delight more than once, Richards said, but estimates for the cost of drainage work have gone up, delaying improvements.
An appropriation from the Tourism Advertisement Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works, the V.I. Waste Management Authority and the V.I. Police Department was reduced from $1.6 million to $650,000 and directed specifically to Tourism for the V.I. Carnival Committee, the Crucian Christmas Organization and the Festival and Cultural Organization of St. John.
All votes were unanimous, but varying numbers of committee members were present. For the bills and amendments above, voting yea were Richards and Sens. Carmen Wesselhoft, Celestino White, Carlton "Ital" Dowe and Shawn Michael Malone. Absent were Sens. James Weber III and Alvin Williams.
The Finance Committee held in committee a bill changing the share of insurance paid by government employee from 35 to 40 percent. (See "Government Employees Spared Paying Higher Share of Health Insurance.") This would have saved the government $3.3 million, which it will now spend.
The bulk of the budget is contained in one act: Bill 27-0224 with $735 million, including the main appropriations for running all the executive agencies under the governor. Allocations in millions of dollars:
— Education: 188.6;
— Miscellaneous: 133;
— Police: 62.9;
— Human Services: 60.8;
— Health: 41;
— Justice: 40;
— Schneider Regional Medical Center: 32.4;
— Public Works: 30.6;
— Juan F. Luis Hospital: 27.5;
— Fire Services: 19.4;
— IRB: 11.5;
— Office of the Governor: 10.4;
— Planning and Natural Resources: 8.9;
— Office of Lt. Governor: 8.6;
— Finance: 7.4;
— Property and Procurement: 6.7;
— Labor: 6.6;
— Personnel: 4.3;
— Tourism: 3.9;
— Licensing, Consumer Affairs: 3.7;
— Agriculture: 3.6;
— OMB: 3;
— Bureau of Information Technology: 3;
— Board of Education: 2.7;
— Bureau of Motor Vehicles: 2.6;
— Adjutant General: 2.3;
— Inspector General: 2;
— Election System: 1.4;
— Veteran's Affairs: $414,000; and
— Board of Elections: $217,000.
The $133 million under Miscellaneous includes several hundred appropriations — from $10,000 for Water Island Rescue to $23 million reserved for "pending negotiations" — as well as $14.5 million for the Molasses Subsidy and $4.5 million for the Economic Development Authority.
Voting to send the executive budget bill on to the floor under an open rule were Richards, Wesselhoft, White, Dowe, Malone and Weber. Williams was absent. All the other bills were voted on closed rules, meaning they cannot be amended further. Amendments will likely be introduced tomorrow during plenary session on St. Thomas.
Rules also approved and sent on to the floor:
— $69.1 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund, composed of remitted rum excise taxes, of which $20.5 million goes into the General Fund and $47.6 million to pay off bonds;
— $42.3 million in a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for hospitals and health facilities;
— $35 million for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands;
— $32.3 million from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority;
— $16.5 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
— $7 million to Finance for the Caribbean Basin Initiative;
— $5.7 million in 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;
— $5.4 million from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System;
— $5 million from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund;
— $3.8 million from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority;
— $2.2 million to Labor and $765,000 to Finance from the Government Insurance Fund, for a total of $2.9 million;
— $2 million from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund to Property and Procurement for its Business and Commercial Properties Administration;
— $1.5 million from the Public Services Commission Revolving Fund to the PSC for operating expenses;
— $1.3 million to WMA and $225,000 to Public Works from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund, for a total of $1.5 million;
— $1.1 million from the Sewer Waste Water Fund to the Waste Management Authority for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the government of the Virgin Islands;
— $1 million from the Transportation Trust Fund for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
— $1 million for operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee;
— $684,000 from the Taxi License Fund for V.I. Taxicab Commission operating expenses; and
— $500,000 from the General Fund as a contribution to the Agriculture Revolving Fund.
For each of these bills, voting yea were Richards, Wesselhoft, White and Dowe. Absent were Malone, Weber and Williams. The budget bills are scheduled for floor votes Thursday on St. Thomas.
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Sept. 17, 2008 -- The Senate Rules Committee plowed through 24 appropriations bills Wednesday, adding several million for the territory's courts and over half a million for core Legislature staff salary increases, but sending the governor's $867.3 million budget to the floor largely intact.
The committee increased operating expenses of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands from $1.5 million to $5 million, and for the Superior Court from $26.6 million to $34.3 million, of which $7.5 million is for the nascent Magistrate Division, utilities and retroactive pay. The Judicial Council's $300,000 and the Office of the Public Defender's $3 million remain unchanged.
The committee voted to add $650,000 for central staff salary increases, bringing the appropriation from $19.8 million to $20.5 million.
While not changing the numbers, the committee amended a $2 million appropriation from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for capital improvements on St. Croix, earmarking the funds specifically for road repairs in Williams Delight.
"The people of Williams Delight may not be the wealthiest or most influential," Sen. Usie Richards said. "But as citizens of this territory, they have as much a right to good roads as anyone."
The Legislature has appropriated funds for Williams Delight more than once, Richards said, but estimates for the cost of drainage work have gone up, delaying improvements.
An appropriation from the Tourism Advertisement Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works, the V.I. Waste Management Authority and the V.I. Police Department was reduced from $1.6 million to $650,000 and directed specifically to Tourism for the V.I. Carnival Committee, the Crucian Christmas Organization and the Festival and Cultural Organization of St. John.
All votes were unanimous, but varying numbers of committee members were present. For the bills and amendments above, voting yea were Richards and Sens. Carmen Wesselhoft, Celestino White, Carlton "Ital" Dowe and Shawn Michael Malone. Absent were Sens. James Weber III and Alvin Williams.
The Finance Committee held in committee a bill changing the share of insurance paid by government employee from 35 to 40 percent. (See "Government Employees Spared Paying Higher Share of Health Insurance.") This would have saved the government $3.3 million, which it will now spend.
The bulk of the budget is contained in one act: Bill 27-0224 with $735 million, including the main appropriations for running all the executive agencies under the governor. Allocations in millions of dollars:
-- Education: 188.6;
-- Miscellaneous: 133;
-- Police: 62.9;
-- Human Services: 60.8;
-- Health: 41;
-- Justice: 40;
-- Schneider Regional Medical Center: 32.4;
-- Public Works: 30.6;
-- Juan F. Luis Hospital: 27.5;
-- Fire Services: 19.4;
-- IRB: 11.5;
-- Office of the Governor: 10.4;
-- Planning and Natural Resources: 8.9;
-- Office of Lt. Governor: 8.6;
-- Finance: 7.4;
-- Property and Procurement: 6.7;
-- Labor: 6.6;
-- Personnel: 4.3;
-- Tourism: 3.9;
-- Licensing, Consumer Affairs: 3.7;
-- Agriculture: 3.6;
-- OMB: 3;
-- Bureau of Information Technology: 3;
-- Board of Education: 2.7;
-- Bureau of Motor Vehicles: 2.6;
-- Adjutant General: 2.3;
-- Inspector General: 2;
-- Election System: 1.4;
-- Veteran's Affairs: $414,000; and
-- Board of Elections: $217,000.
The $133 million under Miscellaneous includes several hundred appropriations -- from $10,000 for Water Island Rescue to $23 million reserved for "pending negotiations" -- as well as $14.5 million for the Molasses Subsidy and $4.5 million for the Economic Development Authority.
Voting to send the executive budget bill on to the floor under an open rule were Richards, Wesselhoft, White, Dowe, Malone and Weber. Williams was absent. All the other bills were voted on closed rules, meaning they cannot be amended further. Amendments will likely be introduced tomorrow during plenary session on St. Thomas.
Rules also approved and sent on to the floor:
-- $69.1 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund, composed of remitted rum excise taxes, of which $20.5 million goes into the General Fund and $47.6 million to pay off bonds;
-- $42.3 million in a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for hospitals and health facilities;
-- $35 million for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands;
-- $32.3 million from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority;
-- $16.5 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
-- $7 million to Finance for the Caribbean Basin Initiative;
-- $5.7 million in 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;
-- $5.4 million from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System;
-- $5 million from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund;
-- $3.8 million from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority;
-- $2.2 million to Labor and $765,000 to Finance from the Government Insurance Fund, for a total of $2.9 million;
-- $2 million from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund to Property and Procurement for its Business and Commercial Properties Administration;
-- $1.5 million from the Public Services Commission Revolving Fund to the PSC for operating expenses;
-- $1.3 million to WMA and $225,000 to Public Works from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund, for a total of $1.5 million;
-- $1.1 million from the Sewer Waste Water Fund to the Waste Management Authority for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the government of the Virgin Islands;
-- $1 million from the Transportation Trust Fund for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
-- $1 million for operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee;
-- $684,000 from the Taxi License Fund for V.I. Taxicab Commission operating expenses; and
-- $500,000 from the General Fund as a contribution to the Agriculture Revolving Fund.
For each of these bills, voting yea were Richards, Wesselhoft, White and Dowe. Absent were Malone, Weber and Williams. The budget bills are scheduled for floor votes Thursday on St. Thomas.
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.