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Thursday, July 7, 2022


Gov. Charles W. Turnbull arrived Monday afternoon in Washington, D.C., to begin a round of meetings with federal officials, some of whom are reportedly unhappy about the governor's retraction of the proposed 6 percent pay cut to government workers.
Washington officials are also frustrated over the removal of the $2.50 cruise ship passenger head tax from the Legislature's Financial Accountability Act.
An official in the capital, who asked not to be identified, said, "The tough choices are just not being made."
The governor will meet Thursday with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Turnbull met with Babbitt in January in St. Thomas.
The secretary and other federal officials reportedly told Turnbull then that the U.S. government would only step in to assist if the Virgin Islands was willing to take strong measures to get its fiscal house in order.
The V.I. government wants the feds to forgive millions of dollars in loans from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other things.
A source close to Government House also confirmed that the feds are upset over Turnbull's about-face on the pay cuts after union leaders strongly protested.
The governor will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. He is expected to discuss the rum excise tax and the jewelry bill. The jewelry bill was passed by the House of Representatives and has been forwarded it to President Bill Clinton for his signature.
The bill would provide tariff credits against wages paid by Virgin Islands jewelry makers, the same as is now provided to watch manufacturers.
The Ways and Means Committee recently voted to lift the cap on rum excise taxes to the territory for three months from July through October, as part of the larger Caribbean Basin Initiative.
The lift on the rum tax cap would would mean that the V.I. would get $13.50 per proof gallon rather than the $10.50 the territory currently receives.
The issue now rests with the Senate Finance Committee.
Turnbull is also slated to attend the first annual conference of the Virgin Islands Institute for Development, which takes place in Washington beginning Thursday and running through Saturday.

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