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V.I. Answer Desk: Why is the V.I. Government About to Have a One-Week Paid Holiday?

A reader asked if it was true the V.I. government was shutting down, with pay, for an entire week during the first half of April and, if so, why.

Asked about closure plans, Government House spokesperson Kimberly Jones said the Easter holiday is the main reason.

"This is Easter week. Most government offices are closed in observation of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday. Also Tuesday is Transfer Day," Jones said.

As a result, V.I. government offices were open Monday, closed Tuesday and will be open Wednesday, and then be closed again Thursday, Friday and Monday – for four paid government employee holidays in seven days.

Within the United States, the federal government has 11 paid holidays, including New Year’s Day; Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; George Washington’s birthday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, for all employees and Presidential Inauguration Day for some Washington, D.C., area employees.

Most states and territories incorporate all the federal holidays and all incorporate at least most of them.

Each state and territory has its own list of local paid government holidays, often reflecting the local history and culture. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Columbus Day is also named V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Day in part as a response to local political perspectives. While in Mississippi, local sentiments have prompted that state’s legislature to create a paid state Confederate Memorial Day in April.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has eight local government holidays in addition to the 10 applicable federal holidays. Those are Three Kings Day on Jan. 6; Transfer Day, commemorating the sale of the islands to the United States, March 31; Holy Thursday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; July 3, Emancipation Day; Nov. 1, D. Hamilton Jackson Day; and Dec. 26, Christmas Second Day.

Among the states and territories, only Puerto Rico has more local government holidays, with 11.

The territory joins North Carolina and Texas in giving government employees a paid holiday the day after Christmas, and joins Puerto Rico in paying workers for Three Kings Day.

Eliminating paid government holidays is a charged political issue. In 2011, faced with a severe budget shortfall, Gov. John deJongh Jr. proposed eliminating nine paid holidays. The Legislature rejected the proposal. (See Related Links below)

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