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HomeCommentaryLegislature CornerLegislature Corner: WAPA Problems Must Be Resolved Cooperatively

Legislature Corner: WAPA Problems Must Be Resolved Cooperatively

Sen. Kenneth L. Gittens speaking in the V.I. Senate. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)

Senator Kenneth L. Gittens said Thursday that late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Albert A. Bryan Jr. announced his veto of measures put in place to help address debts to the WAPA from the territory’s hospitals and the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority as well as a bill to curtail the Administration’s State of Emergency powers.

“Senators took immediate action to, once again, assist with the current crisis at WAPA,” Majority Leader Gittens said. “The Legislature must have a say in spending government funds and not be notified after the fact. We should be working collectively as we are ultimately responsible for the government’s purse strings.”

In a recent press conference, Sen. Gittens noted that the Legislature had taken aggressive action towards assisting and reforming WAPA over the past six years.

“There is a very long list of all the bills we have passed, funds we have appropriated and hearings we have held,” he said. “Yet our legislation to help fix WAPA has been vetoed and fought in court. We have had to subpoena documents and officials. We have granted this administration just about every request it has made in regard to WAPA, as keeping this utility up and running could not be more critical.”

Gittens said his colleagues were currently in discussions as to the next steps and that an immediate meeting with the administration was in order.

“It is quite sad that more than half the territory remains without power today, while the governor is vetoing legislation to help WAPA and describing senators’ concerted efforts as ‘knee jerk statutes’,” he said. “As I stated at the press conference, placing blame will not help resolve this issue, but we need to look with clear eyes at what has actually transpired in recent years.” Small Business Administration

Senator Kenneth L. Gittens is the Senate Majority Leader.

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