Senate rules committee approves 2013 budget
Published: September 15, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - Senators passed the Fiscal Year 2013 budget bills out of the Rules and Judiciary Committee on Friday, adding $11.6 million to the central government's budget.
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee killed a number of bills submitted by Gov. John deJongh Jr. that were meant to balance the budget.
Sen. Carlton Dowe said the budget passed Friday may have a shortfall, but measures will be coming to the floor during the upcoming session that may help to close the gap. The budget will be considered by the full Senate at session Monday and Tuesday.
The executive budget is the main General Fund budget for all central government departments and agencies. The executive budget includes a miscellaneous section, which has earmarks for government and non-government entities. Senators added $9.2 million to the miscellaneous section above what the governor proposed.
When deJongh submitted the FY 2013 budget, the executive budget totalled about $592.2 million. The executive budget passed by the Senate committee Friday totals $603.9 million.
The FY 2013 budget for the judicial branch was amended Friday, reducing all but the V.I. Superior Court budget and adding almost $2 million to the total recommended by the governor.
DeJongh had suggested $5.8 million for the V.I. Supreme Court; $21.1 million for the V.I. Superior Court; $254,227 for the Judicial Council of the Virgin Islands; and $3.5 million for the Territorial Office of the Public Defender.
Friday, the Senate committee changed the totals to $5.7 million for the Supreme Court; $23 million for the Superior Court; $225,972 for the Judicial Council; and $3.1 million for the Public Defender's Office.
Senate President Ronald Russell said Friday that senators chose to reduce their operating budget by $2 million to reflect the budget cuts the rest of the government has endured.
The Legislative budget passed Friday was amended to set the ceiling at $17.8 million.
In FY 2012, the Senate kept its own budget at $19.8 million - the same appropriation it got the year before - despite slashing the budgets of many departments and agencies.
While senators and central staff took the 8 percent pay cut like all other government workers, the institution used the savings to pay obligations rather than return the savings to the General Fund.
Each year, the Senate must pass a series of budget bills transferring funds from various accounts to the General Fund to support the budget. In some cases, legislative approval is required for agencies to tap into certain revenue-collecting funds.
A number of the budget bills were amended in Rules on Friday, and almost all were passed with a closed rule - meaning the bills cannot be further amended at the upcoming Senate session.
The budget bills that passed out of the Rules and Judiciary Committee on Friday are:
- Bill 29-0396, transferring $4.6 million from the Anti-litter and Beautification Fund; $1 million to the V.I. Public Works Department; and $3,637,513 to the V.I. Waste Management Authority.
- Bill 29-0397, appropriating $1,270,709 from the General Fund to the V.I. Board of Education for scholarships.
- Bill 29-0398, transferring $1 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Fund for the bureau's operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0399, transferring $2,053,237 from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund for operating expenses of the Property and Procurement Department.
- Bill 29-0400, appropriating $13 million from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund as a contribution to the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0401, appropriating $1.4 million from the General Fund for the Elections System: $81,914 to the St. Croix District Board of Elections; $75,252 to the St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections; and $1,269,020 to the Supervisor of Elections.
- Bill 29-0402, appropriating $2.3 million from the Government Insurance Fund: $557,466 for the Finance Department and $1,756,313 for the Labor Department for operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0403, appropriating $3,941,036 from the Health Revolving Fund to the V.I. Health Department for operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0404, appropriating $5,296,082 from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries and operating expenses: $1,835,887 for the Office of Management and Budget; $391,060 for the Division of Personnel; $387,213 for the Property and Procurement Department; and $2,681,922 for Finance.
- Bill 29-0405, appropriating $3.5 million from the interest earned on debt service reserves as a contribution to the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0406, appropriating $1 million from the Interest Revenue Fund as a contribution to the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0407, appropriating $151 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the General Fund and to pay debt service on bonds.
- Bill 29-0408, appropriating $1,050,000 from the Union Arbitration Award Fund as a contribution to the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0409, appropriating $1,563,367 from the Public Services Commission Revolving Fund for the PSC's operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0410, appropriating $3 million to the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer Waste Water Fund.
- Bill 29-0411, appropriating $1.5 million From the St. John Capital Improvement Fund: $225,000 to Public Works and $1,275,00 to Waste Management Authority.
- Bill 29-0412, appropriating $2 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for capital projects. An amendment passed Friday directs the funding to the V.I. Housing, Parks and Recreation Department for the pre-construction or construction phase of the Paul E. Joseph stadium.
- Bill 29-0413, appropriating about $2.2 million from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund: $150,000 to the Economic Development Authority; $850,000 to the V.I. Police Department; $300,000 to Public Works; $300,000 to Waste Management Authority; and $650,000 to Tourism.
- Bill 29-0414, appropriating $11.5 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0415, appropriating $22,908,637 from any available funds to the University of the Virgin Islands.
- Bill 29-0416, appropriating $3,846,346 from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System for operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0417, appropriating $632,569 from the Taxi License Fund to the V.I. Taxicab Commission for operating expenses.
- Bill 29-0418, appropriating $23,826,491 from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority.
- Bill 29-0419, appropriating $1,281,370 from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund: $1,106,370 to the Public Employee Relations Board and $175,000 to the Labor Management Committee.
- Bill 29-0420, appropriating $609,317 from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund to the Division of Personnel for the operating expenses of the Office of Collective Bargaining.
- Bill 29-0421, appropriating $500,000 from stamp tax proceeds to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority to fund the Moderate Income Program. The remaining amount collected in the stamp tax fund will be deposited into the General Fund.
- Bill 29-0429, appropriating about $1.1 million from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund: $300,000 to the V.I. Justice Department for the witness protection program and $800,000 for litigation costs associated with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
- Bill 29-0432, allowing WTJX to expand into other media formats and changing the general manager's title to chief executive officer.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.