With what I consider a crisis at WAPA, I am sure the issue of privatization will once again be on the table. It is probably under the table already! It's an option for the territory to consider before the islands are hit by a rolling blackout.
Congress could act to help ease the budget pain in the USVI. For example, it could reform Medicare and Medicaid to bring as much as an extra $100 million to the USVI every year. Whether it will act is the question.
The USVI faces a host of economic problems made significantly worse by the impact of two hurricanes. Highlighting the facts is not just wallowing in doom and gloom, but an important part of facing them and making wise decisions.
If the V.I. government and Congress do not step up and take difficult, serious steps quickly, the unfilled budget shortfalls will play out painfully and chaotically.
Early in 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands was facing massive structural deficits, fast-rising debt, multiple ratings downgrades, an inability to borrow and no clear path to solvency. Hurricanes Irma and Maria have made the situation dramatically worse.
Congress could do several things which would quickly eliminate the territory's budgetary problems.
One potential revenue source for helping the government dig out from under its budget crisis is already here and ubiquitous – Cannabis. While opposition remains, the tide of public opinion is swinging towards legalization.
The V.I. Budget Crisis, Part 12: What Else Can the USVI Do To Help? Rationalizing Government Agencies
As the territory struggles with its budget crisis, Gov. Kenneth Mapp and members of the Legislature have talked about possibly consolidating some government agencies to save money by cutting administrative costs or operating more efficiently. Sometimes making government functions more rational means consolidating duplicate agencies or folding small agencies into...
The largest single department in the V.I. budget is Education, which means it's also got the biggest, most complicated budget. That makes searching for budget savings a daunting task.
The V.I. Legislature is better funded and far more active than most state legislatures. It may be too active, churning out new legislation that does little, and periodically getting embroiled in the internal management of different agencies.
Most large government agencies are starved for funds, not overfunded. But if we look closer, there may be room for surgical cuts that can move the deficit in the right direction and set an example by leading from the top.
In recent years the V.I. government has changed the laws to expand slot machine gambling, first to try to build hotels in the 1990s, then to help an existing hotel and in hopes of revitalizing horse racing.
Tax breaks granted by the RTPark have reduced corporate taxes paid to the V.I. government, but evidence that they have created significant numbers of new jobs or a thriving tech industry – the program's ostensible purpose – is in short supply.
A big new rum distillery on St. Croix was supposed to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. What happened? Wasn't that supposed to save us?
The V.I. government is at a crossroads, facing budget deficits, growing debt and an inability to borrow. Is the problem the growing debt or is it spending that leads to deficits that expand the debt?
The V.I. Government Employee Retirement System is heading toward insolvency. There are no good options left to prevent this from happening. It will sell all its assets and be unable to make full monthly pension payments by 2025 at the latest.
After several years of annual losses approaching half a billion dollars, Hovensa closed in 2012. The data shows the loss of revenues from the worldwide recession and the Hovensa closure are the largest culprits in the territory's structural deficits.
In the first part of a series on the V.I. budget crisis, Source reporter Bill Kossler looks at the factors that led the territory's government to a crossroads.