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HomeNewsArchivesWHITE HOUSE: V.I. MUST ADDRESS DEFICIT

WHITE HOUSE: V.I. MUST ADDRESS DEFICIT

In a statement "cautiously" supporting Delegate Donna Christian-Christiansen's borrowing bill, the White House has said the administration could support the legislation "if the territory agrees to enact an acceptable balanced budget/debt reduction plan."
The bill, which amends the Organic Act to allow the Virgin Islands to borrow working capital by issuing bonds, was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on Monday.
Sources in Washington say federal officials have told Gov. Charles W. Turnbull that he must cut spending, particularly in the area of payroll, if he expects their help in solving the territory's fiscal woes.
Christiansen said in a press release Tuesday that the Clinton administration's reluctance to support her bill indicates Washington's level of concern about the territory's fiscal situation.
"While the president is willing to support this legislation and other initiatives to aid in our economic recovery, our local government must demonstrate its willingness to make tough choices to get our fiscal house in order," she said. "We are in a very precarious position right now, but there is still time to raise Washington's level of confidence that our government will act responsibly to ensure that we turn this economy around."
Budget hearings before the V.I. Legislature's Finance Committee wound up last week and the governor has finally submitted the long-awaited Government Reorganization Plan. But some in government say the plan is flawed.
In some areas the plan does not match the changes proposed in the governor's revised budget.
Questions also have been raised about the bond issue legislation that Turnbull recently submitted to the Legislature. It seeks authorization to borrow $130 million by issuing bonds through the Public Finance Authority. The debt would be repaid with gross receipts taxes.
Finance Committee chair Lorraine Berry said Monday she had questions about what that would do to the budget since the gross receipts taxes are part of the projected revenues for fiscal year 2000.

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