The V. I. Board of Nurse Licensure is one of the smallest entities from which the Committee on Finance will hear a budget request.
However, in the hearing on Thursday, senators illustrated how important it was. Committee Chairman Sen. Kurt Vialet said, “We are not in a good place with health care in the territory.” He indicated that the Board of Nurse Licensure could be the entity that would make the difference in whether a resident going to the hospital would see the proper nurse at their bedside.
The board was requesting $536,885 for the upcoming fiscal year.
Sen. Kenneth Gittens said, “I don’t think this budget is sufficient.”
Sen. Javan James said, “We know we need more nurses in the territory.”
Vialet said, “We have to look at why we want to increase funds to the Board of Nurse Licensure.”
Tanicia Penn, a registered nurse and chairperson for the board, reading the testimony said, “This projected amount reflects salaries and fringe benefits of six full-time employees, property rental, and operating supplies.”
However, the testimony included a request for a supplementary budget of $312,344 that would cover new hires and raises for employees.
Approval of this supplementary budget would allow for the board to have a presence on St. Croix. It includes the hiring of an accountant and a compliance office on the big island.
There was a third request in Penn’s testimony. “We are requesting a reimbursement of funds for our lost revenue during the pandemic of approximately $125,000 by issuing a total of 1,101 temporary licenses,” Penn read to the committee.
When questioned by senators, she answered that this was the amount the board lost during the pandemic, and the board was not allowed to charge licensing fees.
Brittany Dawson, the vice-chair of the board, said an effort was being made to streamline the application process for nurses.
Senators attending the meeting were Francis, Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory, Marvin Blyden, Dwayne DeGraff, James, Carla Joseph, and Gittens.