Mapp Calls Special Session for Medicaid, Horse Racing Bills

    Gov. Kenneth Mapp
Gov. Kenneth Mapp

Gov. Kenneth Mapp has called a special session for Wednesday to consider seven proposed bills, including more funding for Medicaid matching and anti-doping rules for horse racing that he has proposed before, but which senators stripped from earlier legislation.

Failure to enact anti-doping rules would kill the deal ratified last year with slot machine company VIGL to run the territory’s horse tracks, Mapp said in a statement.

Mapp is also again proposing that the Legislature consolidate the two existing horse racing commissions to establish a single regulatory authority within the Department Sports, Parks and Recreation.

Another of Mapp’s bills would establish a formula for distribution of race track casino revenue, with half going to the government; 30 percent to the horsemen’s associations and a list of smaller amounts to an array of causes.

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Other proposed bills would authorize the government to purchase surrounding lands in order to complete the Paul E. Joseph Stadium Project, to reprogram certain balances from completed bond funded projects to repair educational facilities, and to reprogram Community Facilities Trust Fund balances to repair sports facilities.

Mapp is requesting that the appropriation to the Department of Human Services be increased by $10 million to provide the local match for the Medical Assistance Program, which serves 22,000 Virgin Islanders. This year’s fiscal year budget appropriates $5 million, but the government’s obligation is $13 million.

He is is proposing a transfer of $13 million from federal rum excise tax funds to the General Fund, saying this is made possible as the result of the adjustment in the rum cover over rate from $10.50 per proof gallon to $13.25 per proof gallon in fiscal year 2016. And he is requesting that another $2 million be transferred from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the General Fund. Both transfers are part of the effort to balance this fiscal year’s budget.

To address emergency sewer repairs and line replacements at the Juan F. Luis Hospital, Governor Mapp is requesting a $3 million appropriation. It would require reprogramming certain Gross Receipts Tax Bonds and Matching Fund Bonds, along with funds from the Community Facilities Trust Account.

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