Aug. 10, 2002 – Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, who refused to appear at two Senate Finance Committee hearings on the governor's proposed Fiscal Year 2003 budget for his office, has called a press conference for 10 a.m. Monday on St. Thomas.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, although publicly at odds with James, who is challenging him for territory's top job in the fall, had recommended an increase of $1.5 million for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, to $5.9 million. In its markup of the executive branch budget on Wednesday, the Finance Committee sliced $1.4 million of the proposed increase away, leaving a gain of $100,000 over this fiscal year's funding level.
James said he wants to meet with the media to discuss the "adverse effects" the committee's decision will have on his office, which he said generates about $80 million annually for the government.
Meanwhile, Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, who chairs the Finance Committee, also has called a press conference on Monday — at 1:30 p.m. on St. Croix. The advisory from her office did not specify the purpose of the meeting. However, the timing would allow for rebuttal to anything James may say in the morning.
James ignored two "invitations" from Hansen to appear before the committee, in both instances sending his chief of staff, Charles Parrott, to represent him instead. On July 11 and again on July 31, Hansen refused to let Parrott present the budget request.
"The lieutenant governor is also the commissioner of Insurance and chairman of the Banking Board, and as such he should appear before this body as the other commissioners do," she said at the time. "We have many insurance problems in the territory, and we need to hear from the person in charge of policy. I will not accept the chief of staff."
The Office of the Lieutenant Governor, among other things, regulates banking and insurance and includes the Office of Tax Assessor. Hansen did allow assessor Roy Martin to present his budget on July 31.
The FY 2003 budgets approved by the Finance Committee are now on their way to the Rules Committee. What Rules approves will go to the full Senate, and whatever emerges there will go back to Government House.
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