Senate Finance Committee advances bill forcing executive branch to create fiscal plan
Published: October 19, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A bill mandating that the executive branch create a fiscal management plan passed the Senate Finance Committee on Friday.
The committee also amended and passed a bill to change the captive insurance law to attract new business to the territory.
Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly sponsored the fiscal management bill.
"This does not put in place a fiscal management plan. It is not the job of the Legislature to do that," she said.
Instead, the bill mandates that the director of the Office of Management and Budget create a fiscal plan that includes:
- An analysis of all debt, including capacity to pay and remaining borrowing capacity.
- All financial balances to determine the government's ability to meet its financial obligations.
- Revenue and expenditure forecasts for the next five years.
- Recommendations to address anticipated budget shortfalls.
- Short- and long-term financial strategies.
- Strategies for responding to local, national and global recessions.
- Strategies to improve the government's bond rating.
- Limits on long-term borrowing using general obligation bonds.
- Alternative financing activities for capital improvements and revenue enhancement projects.
- Periodic reviews of zoning and planning maps.
- Limiting government's expenditures for leasing property and equipment.
- Requiring a budget reserve of 2 percent of General Fund revenues.
- Requiring that debt service not exceed 10 percent of government expenditures.
- Developing internal controls for monitoring government revenues and expenditures.
- Publishing a quarterly audit of government revenues and expenditures.
- Reconciling government bank accounts within 30 days of receiving monthly bank statements.
Office of Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb said all this is already done by various government entities.
"As the director, OMB, the annual executive budget submission is the fiscal plan for the ensuing fiscal year," Gottlieb said.
Rivera-O'Reilly said the plan would not be the same as the annual budget.
"It tries to get executive branch to look at all the pieces of the puzzle with respect to planning - not necessarily budgeting - for short-term and long-term goals," she said.
Gottlieb said the 2 percent rainy day fund is not necessary, as a similar law is already on the books.
Rivera-O'Reilly acknowledged that but said it is not being enforced.
Gottlieb said the proposed timetable - the plan is to be submitted Dec. 31 - is too tight.
Rivera-O'Reilly said she would consider amending the bill to push the enactment date back.
The bill was unanimously approved by Senators Donald Cole, Clifford Graham, Myron Jackson and Rivera-O'Reilly. Senators Judi Buckley, Terrence Nelson and Clarence Payne III were absent.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.