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Senator Barshinger Voices Concern Over Possibility of Losing Education Funds

Dear Editor and Fellow Virgin Islanders,
Congressional Delegate Christensen's recent report of the progress of her Chief Financial Officer bill through the house was welcome. It noted that the CFO bill still faces opposition from the Turnbull administration and the leadership of the Legislature.
I hasten to add that several members of the Legislature support the CFO bill, and I am one of them. In fact, my support has strengthened in light of the Department of Education falling into imminent receivership.
I long hoped that the simple pressure from the impending CFO bill on our local government would spark a reform in the way we do business.
Alas, this has not happened. In fact, just the contrary has happened.
Although I stuck up for our local government's autonomy in the recent meeting arranged by Sen. Russell with the representatives from the U.S. Department of Education, I say to my fellow Virgin Islanders that I am very disappointed in us for failing to honor the Compliance Agreement. For those who don't know, the Compliance Agreement was a "last ditch" move to avoid loosing $40 million in federal education funds. We had three years to institute a functional financial management system. We failed.
Here is what rubs salt in the wound: The government of American Samoa was faced with exactly the same crisis that we face. And they solved the problem COMPLETELY in two and half years. Now Samoa gets all their federal funds because they can account for them instantly. We are getting to be real experts in excusing our failures — what about living up to our potential? YOU KNOW WE CAN DO IT.
So now we are faced with having to accept and pay for an outside fiduciary agent in order to continue to receive federal education funds.
The governor promised us he would be the CFO and the Legislature would be the control board. He said that a CFO would be a return to colonialism. Yet we have lost control of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and now face loss of the Dept. of Education's funding.
I am not content to keep following this path. Are you? What do you want to do about it? What do you want me and other senators to do about it as your legislative representatives?
-Craig
Editors note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net

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