Gov. Charles Turnbull's shell game of government funds can't continue much longer. The governor continues to tell anyone who will listen that his administration has made major economic progress in the last four years, but in reality the opposite is true. We have not created or identified new revenue streams, we have borrowed more than ever for operating purposes, and for FY 2003 we will rely on delinquent accounts for revenues. This is not economic growth.
Early in the week, Management and Budget Director Ira Mills forecast that FY 2002 revenues could be close to $62,000,000, or 11 percent, less than originally estimated. He explained that in light of this new prediction his staff was in the process of reducing spending levels for all governmental departs and agencies. I applaud Mr. Mills for his honesty and prudent reaction to the shortfall.
Yet, in light of this news, and the governor's inability to grow the private sector, we now have our government in financial risk in covering vendor payments and employee salaries. Doesn't the governor's recent decision to pay his top employees retroactive pay from last October 1 seem foolhardy at best and fiscally irresponsible at worst?
I'm sure I'm not the only one concerned about the shifting sources of money being used to keep the government afloat. I'm sure others were just as concerned when the governor took $4,000,000 from the V.I. Port Authority to cover cash-flow shortages to meet the needs of school maintenance and repairs. Now that same authority's management is predicting a $5,000,000 shortfall by the end of September, with the strong possibility that airport landing fees will have to be raised. This Territory can ill afford to jeopardize its fragile tourism economy by adding more fees to the airlines.
John de Jongh
Candidate for Governor
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THE GOVERNOR PLAYS A 'SHELL GAME' WITH FUNDS
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