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HomeNewsArchivesBOSCHULTE RESPONDS TO SOURCE SENATE FORUM

BOSCHULTE RESPONDS TO SOURCE SENATE FORUM

1. How important is a comprehensive land and water use plan, and why has the territory been unable in more than 20 years of effort to enact one? What will it take to change this, and what, if anything will you do to bring about such change?
The successful implementation of any plan is to ensure that it is comprehensive. In my opinion the reason why the VI has not been successful with over 20 years of effort, is the limited involvement of the private sector. Although there is a planning office at DPNR the government has not produce a viable comprehensive plan. Problems are addressed in a reactive manner and therefore have prevented the government to properly plan. There should also be more involvement between the League of Women Voters, Environment Association of St. Thomas and the Government. My approach to this issue will be to introduce a bill that supports mandatory long and short-term plans with more involvement from the private sector, reinforced by the mandatory submission of annual progress reports that evaluate progress or the lack there of. These reports further are to be shared with the public via the media to ensure that all branches of government are held accountable for not just developing plans, but working the plans through to completion.
2. How important is private and public sector partnering, and how can such partnering best be accomplished in order to be more most effective in addressing economic and social problems in the territory?
Partnership between the private and public sectors is crucial if we are to survive as a Territory. The dismal state of our economy has revealed that neither the private nor the public sectors can achieve its maximum potential without the other. The government has a deficit and the economy is stagnating if not declining. Common sense indicates that unless both sides learn to work together as partners in strengthening our economy by implementing innovative programs that compliment and augment the other, neither will survive. We have been trying for far too long to coexist without recognizing that if we want to enjoy the fruits of a prosperous economy we must both be responsible for, and committed to planting the seeds of growth and prosperity together.
3. What are the biggest problems in the public education system, and what will it take to solve them? What will you do toward getting them solved?
While the Virgin Islands is the only place I would ever want to live, it is time for us to stop divorcing ourselves from the rest of the world. The biggest problem I find with our educational system is that we continue to burden ourselves with old ideas and methods of educating our children. This refusal to join the rest of the world is a dangerous and unfair practice to our children. We can no longer operate separate and apart from the outside world. We first must establish higher standards for our students. We must research, benchmark, and compare our system to those that have been recognized as the best and set our sights on meeting and exceeding those standards. We must set standards for our teachers, students, and facilities of learning. Our children are our future. We must approach what they learn, how they learn and who teaches them as our most important priority. I will work hard to introduce bills that set standards whereby our students will be able to complete globally with the best, and whereas, our teachers are the most sought after teachers in the market
4. How do you feel about floating future bonds to finance government initiatives, given the territory's present bond indebtedness of more than $1 billion? What will you do to persuade others of your views?
I am not in agreement that we should float future bonds. Each of us knows that we cannot borrow our way out of debt. By obtaining bonds, we are creating a false illusion that we have funds; when in reality if the revenue is not generated when the bonds become due we are once again caught short and unable to meet our obligations. It's a dangerous game and a short-term solution to a longer-term problem. It allows us to continue to spend above our capacity to generate enough revenue to fund the daily operation of our government. It is equivalent to a band-aid fix. It is a method of covering a problem over, not correcting one. I believe that is it time for the GVI to find hard and realistic solutions to our revenue problems versus creative sources that prolong the inevitable. It is difficult for the public to weigh in on a subject that they have limited understanding of; therefore, my approach would be to inform others of my view through constantly educating the public. As a representative of those that put me in office I would not elect to persuade the voters of my view, but rather, provide them adequate and accurate information so that they can formulate their own choices and make informed decisions for themselves.
5. What is the most viable solution to the territory's solid-waste disposal problems? What will you do to advance the implementation of this solution?
The most viable solution to the territory's solid-waste disposal problems is force the decision, to immediately get the most qualified individuals working to solve our disposal problems. If in fact, the bidding process was conducted legally and within the guidelines of acquiring a qualified company that can provide services that the government is not in a position to provide, then by all means there is no reasonable explanation for not having the most qualified company in place.
6. What is the more viable solution to the territory's sewage/disposal problems? What will you do to advance the implementation of this solution?
I believe that the most viable solution would be to privatize the sewage disposal because the government does not have the skills, capacity or in-house expertise to eliminate this problem. To advance implementation of this solution I would seek to have legislation passed that would promote quick privatization of government services that are proven not to be effective or the core duties of government agencies.
7. How do you assess the economy of the Virgin Islands at this time, and what do you see as its best hope for growth? What will you do to foster that growth?
It is my opinion that the current economy of the Virgin Islands is stagnant if not severely declining. The effects of September 11, 2001, the war or terrorism, the impeding war with Iraq, plus high crime and cruise ships refusing to dock in St. Croix have all had negative impacts on the number of tourists visiting the Islands and the subsequent revenues realized from approximately 2 million tourists each year. Our best opportunity for growth is to find viable methods for diversifying our revenue streams. We can no longer depend solely on tourism to fund our economy, which is currently at 70 percent of our GDP. Our current industries are tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and electronics. With the tourism comprising 70 percent of our fiscal budgets, we must look to other methods of generating revenue and expanding the other 30 percent of our industries by looking inward for what we do well and what we can offer the world as exports. Whether those exports be the traditional goods, or more modern high-tech services-the Virgin Islands must be more innovative in their methods of generating alternative means of revenue.
8. How pervasive is corruption within the local government, and how should this problem, if you consider it to be a problem, best be addressed?
I have heard that there is a lot of corruption within the GVI; however, these rumors have not be substantiated; therefore, it would be irresponsible of me to take a position on statements that have not been proven as factual. I do believe, however, that we need more protection for whistleblowers so when corruption is found to be present those individuals are not afraid to report suspected corruption and those individuals found guilty
of illegal behaviors can be removed, fined or jailed.
9. What is the most viable solution to Government Employees Retirement System payouts exceeding revenues, and what will you do to advance the implementation of this solution?
By law, the government is obligated to pay Government Employees that have retired. It would be a breach of contract to not pay employees that were promised payment as a condition of working for a pre-determined number of years for a retirement benefit; therefore, it is little the GVI can do to absolve itself from this obligation to pay retirees. However, it must consider looking to slow the pace of those eligible for retirement over the next five to ten years. While this would not be the popular thing to do, it would be the most responsible thing to do. The GVI will not be able to bear the strain of the impending exodus of 40 percent or more of their current employees that are eligible for retirement within this current decade. If the GVI does not attempt to control the pace of retirements, the GERS will most certainly collapse under its own weight. My approach would be to introduce legislation that would increase the years and or the age of eligibility for retirement. I believe increasing the contribution for new employees and existing employees should be implemented to assist the GERS.
10. What is the most viable solution to government spending exceeding revenues, and what will you do to advance the implementation of this solution?
It is my opinion that the best solution to eliminate spending in excess of revenue is to begin by holding both branches of government administratively accountable for approving appropriations that are not in alignment with budget projections and for Department heads that spend in excess of quarterly allowances. While we currently have a law that is designed to hold elected official accountable for spending more than is available, this law is not enforced. In addition, there is no punishment for members of the Legislature that continue to pass appropriations for the release of funds that are not available. This is misleading to the public and encourages Departments to spend funding that may or may not be generated during the funding year; thus, continuing to build a larger and larger deficit for the GVI. Given the volatility of our major funding stream (tourism) the GVI consistently adds to the deficit by relying on revenue that is subjected to numerous unforeseen and unpredictable variables (i.e., hurricanes, war, terrorism, etc.). This practice must stop if we are ever to be able to start to decrease the deficit without massive cuts in personnel; which would place an additional burden on the government in other areas such as unemployment, welfare, and other assistance. The only viable solution is accountability, enforcement, and administrative penalties.
11. How do alignments between majority and minority blocs in the Legislature and adversarial relationships between the legislative and executive branches of government serve the best interests of the people of the Virgin Islands?
There is no way that any adversarial relationships could serve the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands. This constant practice of "them" against "us" does not benefit the people. Getting any significant legislation passed is often difficult if not impossible. Good laws are often held hostage by constant disagreements and lack of working through key issues by both branches of government. The focus of both branches of government should be for serving the needs of the citizens. While the separation of powers is designed to ensure checks and balances in a democratic system; I do not believe that the system upon which our government is based was designed to foster an atmospheres of adversarial relationships, but rather was designed to ensure that all laws and policies enacted by government are in the best interest of the citizens.

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