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DeJongh Vetoes Measure Forgiving Territorial Hospital Debt

While signing a slew of legislation this week, Gov. John deJongh Jr. line-item vetoed a measure forgiving millions of dollars due the government from the territory’s two hospitals, harshly characterizing the measure as irresponsible in a time of fiscal crisis.

"I find it simply unacceptable for the Legislature to wave what it presumes is a magical legislative wand and thus waive and forgive over $80 million of financial obligations owed to the Government," deJongh wrote in his transmittal letter to the Legislature. "Nowhere is it evident that the Legislature has considered the impact that this legislation would have on our ability to raise or borrow money or reimburse fund transfers."

DeJongh said waiving the debt would ultimately just put the burden onto V.I. taxpayers.

"Surely our hospitals must do much more to demonstrate what they have done to collect the monies owed to them before they can be forgiven the monies they owe," deJongh said.

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That and several other unrelated measures were attached to a bill correcting a property description.

In the same bill, the governor also line-item vetoed a provision to the same bill allowing car rental companies who have leases with the Port Authority to give courtesy rides back to the airport was vetoed because it appears to "unfairly deny access to companies – and by extension our island visitors and residents alike – which do not have leases with the Virgin Islands Port Authority." He would support the measure with some revision, he said.

Separately, deJongh vetoed a bill to expand gross receipts tax exemptions for farmers and fishermen. The bill "is not only over-broad in its targeting of farmers and fishermen, but flies in the face of our current financial and budgetary crisis," deJongh wrote.

DeJongh did approve most of the bills sent to him by the Legislature without revision, including bills:

  • reserving 15 percent of Water Island lots belonging to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority for sale to veterans.
  • amending the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.
  • banning age discrimination and declaring that discrimination suits under V.I. law can be brought in any competent court.
  • requiring V.I. banks to cash Government Employee Retirement System and Social Security checks regardless of whether the person has an account at that bank.
  • bringing local fish and game conservation laws into compliance with federal requirements.
  • designating which local community organizations will receive 2012 federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
  • allowing the Legislature to exchange information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation while considering nominees for government posts.
  • approving a number of zoning changes, Coastal Zone Management permits and commemorative resolutions.
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While signing a slew of legislation this week, Gov. John deJongh Jr. line-item vetoed a measure forgiving millions of dollars due the government from the territory's two hospitals, harshly characterizing the measure as irresponsible in a time of fiscal crisis.

"I find it simply unacceptable for the Legislature to wave what it presumes is a magical legislative wand and thus waive and forgive over $80 million of financial obligations owed to the Government," deJongh wrote in his transmittal letter to the Legislature. "Nowhere is it evident that the Legislature has considered the impact that this legislation would have on our ability to raise or borrow money or reimburse fund transfers."

DeJongh said waiving the debt would ultimately just put the burden onto V.I. taxpayers.

"Surely our hospitals must do much more to demonstrate what they have done to collect the monies owed to them before they can be forgiven the monies they owe," deJongh said.

That and several other unrelated measures were attached to a bill correcting a property description.

In the same bill, the governor also line-item vetoed a provision to the same bill allowing car rental companies who have leases with the Port Authority to give courtesy rides back to the airport was vetoed because it appears to "unfairly deny access to companies - and by extension our island visitors and residents alike - which do not have leases with the Virgin Islands Port Authority." He would support the measure with some revision, he said.

Separately, deJongh vetoed a bill to expand gross receipts tax exemptions for farmers and fishermen. The bill "is not only over-broad in its targeting of farmers and fishermen, but flies in the face of our current financial and budgetary crisis," deJongh wrote.

DeJongh did approve most of the bills sent to him by the Legislature without revision, including bills:

  • reserving 15 percent of Water Island lots belonging to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority for sale to veterans.
  • amending the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.
  • banning age discrimination and declaring that discrimination suits under V.I. law can be brought in any competent court.
  • requiring V.I. banks to cash Government Employee Retirement System and Social Security checks regardless of whether the person has an account at that bank.
  • bringing local fish and game conservation laws into compliance with federal requirements.
  • designating which local community organizations will receive 2012 federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
  • allowing the Legislature to exchange information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation while considering nominees for government posts.
  • approving a number of zoning changes, Coastal Zone Management permits and commemorative resolutions.