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Monday, August 8, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesRules Committee Sends Budget Stopgap Measures to Full Senate

Rules Committee Sends Budget Stopgap Measures to Full Senate

After making some major modifications to the Government House proposal, the Rules and Judiciary Committee sent on Thursday legislation enacting a series of cost-cutting, borrowing and spending measures aimed at helping the government deal with tight cash-flow on for a final vote.

The biggest difficulty is a roughly $23 million cash shortfall for the current Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

The committee replaced the text of the bill with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that clarified some of the language and changed some of the provisions, but leaving the broad outline of Government House’s legislative proposal in place.

The version of the bill sent on Thursday for a final vote in legislative session included proposals from Government House to authorize the government to issue revenue anticipation notes of up to $40 million annually in order to improve cash flow in the months when tax revenues are lower than average. The debt contract would require the loan be paid in full that same fiscal year and so would not add to the overall government debt from year to year.

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It would also appropriate $12 million from the General Fund to the Division of Personnel to pay additional employer costs for health insurance coverage for V.I. government retirees.

The bill would increase the Bureau of Corrections’ appropriation for the current fiscal year by $3 million and make it a lump sum budget, so Corrections can use the funds more efficiently.

And the bill reprograms $1.2 million to the Labor Department to pay interest on the Unemployment Trust Fund that was used for payments to the unemployed.

Another section of the bill directs the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to continue issuing real property tax bills at 1998 rates, thus allowing the government to issue and collect property taxes before reassessing all real property in the territory. It extends the 1998 assessments for use through the 2012 tax year.

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone talked about additional measures included in the substitute bill and other actions taken by the Legislature to help work with Government House to address the government’s financial situation.

Describing the substitute bill, Malone said it contains cuts to the miscellaneous section of the budget, codifies a 3 percent budget reduction to all agencies that Government House previously implemented, and makes a series of transfers from various government funds to the General Fund.

It also repeals a 2010 legislative mandate to set aside a percentage of rum excise tax revenues to speed up paying off government bonds, which Malone said would free up about $2.1 million this year.

And it converts government agencies’ budgets to lump sum budgets for the last few months of the fiscal year, to allow them more flexibility to move funds around.

Voting to replace the governor’s bill with Malone’s substitute bill and to send the substitute bill on for final consideration were Malone, Sens. Donald Cole, Diane Capehart and Sammuel Sanes. Sens. Janette Millin Young and Kenneth Gittens abstained. Sen. Myron Jackson was absent.

The Rules Committee also special ordered onto the agenda and approved a bill changing the law regarding senatorial committee budget allotments to allow the Senate President to increase allotments for the Finance Committee, the Rules and Judiciary Committee and the Committee of the Whole.

Malone said those committees meet more and cost more than other committees, and will need more funding to complete the year’s business. He emphasized that the Senate’s total budget was not increasing.

Rules also approved a supplemental budget request for V.I. Superior Court, sending it for a final vote. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clifford Graham at the request of the court, would have appropriated $5.5 million from the General Fund for the current fiscal year. An amendment from Graham reduced the appropriation to $2.7 million – the exact amount of Superior Court’s shortfall.

Also approved, without opposition, was a bill sponsored by Cole, Malone and Sen. Janette Millin Young to appropriate $100,000 from the Tourism Revolving Fund to the Little League of the Virgin Islands for off-island travel.

And the committee approved a bill, sponsored by Malone at the request of the governor, to allow 2010 funding for a longitudinal study to remain available until expended. The bill also made a technical change to the law to allow the Commissioner of Property and Procurement to use the Business and Commercial Properties Fund for the operations of the department.

The measures approved Thursday will be considered by the full Senate in session Friday.

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After making some major modifications to the Government House proposal, the Rules and Judiciary Committee sent on Thursday legislation enacting a series of cost-cutting, borrowing and spending measures aimed at helping the government deal with tight cash-flow on for a final vote.

The biggest difficulty is a roughly $23 million cash shortfall for the current Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

The committee replaced the text of the bill with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that clarified some of the language and changed some of the provisions, but leaving the broad outline of Government House's legislative proposal in place.

The version of the bill sent on Thursday for a final vote in legislative session included proposals from Government House to authorize the government to issue revenue anticipation notes of up to $40 million annually in order to improve cash flow in the months when tax revenues are lower than average. The debt contract would require the loan be paid in full that same fiscal year and so would not add to the overall government debt from year to year.

It would also appropriate $12 million from the General Fund to the Division of Personnel to pay additional employer costs for health insurance coverage for V.I. government retirees.

The bill would increase the Bureau of Corrections’ appropriation for the current fiscal year by $3 million and make it a lump sum budget, so Corrections can use the funds more efficiently.

And the bill reprograms $1.2 million to the Labor Department to pay interest on the Unemployment Trust Fund that was used for payments to the unemployed.

Another section of the bill directs the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to continue issuing real property tax bills at 1998 rates, thus allowing the government to issue and collect property taxes before reassessing all real property in the territory. It extends the 1998 assessments for use through the 2012 tax year.

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone talked about additional measures included in the substitute bill and other actions taken by the Legislature to help work with Government House to address the government's financial situation.

Describing the substitute bill, Malone said it contains cuts to the miscellaneous section of the budget, codifies a 3 percent budget reduction to all agencies that Government House previously implemented, and makes a series of transfers from various government funds to the General Fund.

It also repeals a 2010 legislative mandate to set aside a percentage of rum excise tax revenues to speed up paying off government bonds, which Malone said would free up about $2.1 million this year.

And it converts government agencies' budgets to lump sum budgets for the last few months of the fiscal year, to allow them more flexibility to move funds around.

Voting to replace the governor’s bill with Malone's substitute bill and to send the substitute bill on for final consideration were Malone, Sens. Donald Cole, Diane Capehart and Sammuel Sanes. Sens. Janette Millin Young and Kenneth Gittens abstained. Sen. Myron Jackson was absent.

The Rules Committee also special ordered onto the agenda and approved a bill changing the law regarding senatorial committee budget allotments to allow the Senate President to increase allotments for the Finance Committee, the Rules and Judiciary Committee and the Committee of the Whole.

Malone said those committees meet more and cost more than other committees, and will need more funding to complete the year's business. He emphasized that the Senate's total budget was not increasing.

Rules also approved a supplemental budget request for V.I. Superior Court, sending it for a final vote. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clifford Graham at the request of the court, would have appropriated $5.5 million from the General Fund for the current fiscal year. An amendment from Graham reduced the appropriation to $2.7 million – the exact amount of Superior Court's shortfall.

Also approved, without opposition, was a bill sponsored by Cole, Malone and Sen. Janette Millin Young to appropriate $100,000 from the Tourism Revolving Fund to the Little League of the Virgin Islands for off-island travel.

And the committee approved a bill, sponsored by Malone at the request of the governor, to allow 2010 funding for a longitudinal study to remain available until expended. The bill also made a technical change to the law to allow the Commissioner of Property and Procurement to use the Business and Commercial Properties Fund for the operations of the department.

The measures approved Thursday will be considered by the full Senate in session Friday.