While giving his final state of the territory address Monday, Gov. John deJongh Jr. also submitted three legislative proposals he said would further economic growth in the territory, including a measure to expand the scope of a 2011 hotel development program.
One measure would apply broad tax breaks and loan subsidies for hotel development to minor islands, like Water Island, Hans Lollick, Great St. James and other sites. As currently written, the act [Act 7301] only applies to St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. The existing law also sunsets in 2014, and deJongh is proposing to extend it indefinitely. The governor’s proposed legislation would also reduce an automatic $500,000 annual contribution required from all recipients of tax breaks or loan subsidies in the program, which deJongh said discouraged smaller ventures.
In a letter to Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, deJongh described a second measure as a supplemental budget measure "to realign appropriations and correct project codes, provide an accurate description of the scope of work and activities funded from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund," and broaden the compliance tools available to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. That measure would also remove a requirement in a 2012 economic stimulus bill that the governor submit a 24-month budget on a biennial basis.
The third bill would create a public corporation to manage the assets of Texas-based Lonesome Dove properties and direct any revenues from it towards early childhood education in the territory. The property was awarded to the territory as part of a long-running tax evasion case, which Government House expects to wrap up soon. [Proposed Legislation]