Governor and Finance Commissioner at Odds Over Budgetary Shortfall Options

Four days after delivering his third State of the Territory address, Gov. Kenneth Mapp appears at odds with Finance Commissioner and PFA Executive Director Valdamier Collens over the strategy of just how the administration will address its current cash flow crisis.
          Mapp on Thursday denied knowing about or having any plans to issue an executive order to facilitate furloughs and government employee layoffs. Collens, in an interview with an online publication on Wednesday night, provided specifics about the order and said it would be issued in short order.
The V.I. Consortium quoted Collens saying the governor would order deep cuts throughout the government to offset the $110 million budget deficit following refusal of the bond market to buy the territory’s securities. Collens, a key member of the administration’s financial team, said the cuts would include the furloughing and termination of government employees, trimming of budgets of department and agencies, and looking at every area of government in an effort to eliminate excess.
          Appearing on Mario Moorhead’s radio talk show on 1620 AM Thursday, Mapp vehemently denied that a strategy of terminations, furloughs and shortened work weeks was in the cards. Mapp said he read the online story with the statements attributed to Collens, but did not know where it came from as he never had any such conversations with Collens.
          On Wednesday, Collens said there were six days of cash at hand and spoke of the difficult period the territory is facing as it can no longer access the bond market. The government continues to grapple with a junk status bond rating, a decades old structural deficit and an overall lack of confidence in the ability of the government to undergo meaningful reform.

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