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Rules Committee Moves 25 Bills to Full Senate for Consideration

Sept. 14, 2006 – While senators did not vote on the $828 million executive budget during Thursday's Rules and Judiciary Committee meeting, they did move 25 other bills onto the full legislative body for further consideration. The bills, which were all approved during a Finance Committee meeting held earlier this week, mainly appropriate money from various government accounts to departments, agencies and the General Fund.
Others, however, appropriate millions of dollars from the General Fund to cover the operating expenses of the V.I. Superior Court, Office of the Territorial Public Defender, V.I. Judicial Council, University of the Virgin Islands, Waste Management Authority, and WTJX Public Television System, among others (See "Expanded Budget Is Good News for Schneider Medical Center, Luis Hospital").
The executive budget, along with the Legislature's fiscal year 2007 operating budget, will be considered during another Rules Committee meeting scheduled for Friday.
A majority of the bills considered on Thursday received unanimous approval from Rules Committee members. Others, however, sparked some concerns from Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson — including a bill which transfers $5 million to the General Fund from the interest earned on debt services reserves (a government account that was recently overappropriated by approximately $14 million).
While Nelson said he wanted to make sure that the account would be able to withstand the transfer, Sen. Ronald E. Russell, chair of the Rules Committee, said he would soon be checking on the status of the account with members of the government's financial team.
Russell said there's a possibility that there are two debt reserves accounts – one that funded projects during fiscal year 2006, and another one set up for FY 2007.
Nelson said he was also concerned about a bill which "suspends" the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund – an account that specifically sets aside money for projects on St. Croix.
When asked after the meeting, Sen. Louis P. Hill, chair of the Finance Committee, said the fund was being eliminated because many of the projects coming online for St. Croix are "usually funded by the Public Finance Authority" or money appropriated from the General Fund.
Despite Nelson's concerns, both measures were approved, along with bills:
–appropriating money from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes;
— appropriating money for the operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007;
–appropriating money for operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 200;
–appropriating money from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007;
— appropriating funds from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007;
— providing for a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007;
–providing for the lump-sum appropriations from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes, of the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance for the fiscal year October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007;
–appropriating the sum of $5,000,000 from the Interest Revenue Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
–providing appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal year October 1, 2006, through September 30, 2007;
–appropriating money for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relation Board and the Labor Management Committee for fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007;
— appropriating funds to the Public Services Commission for fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007 for operating expenses;
–providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007;
–providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007;
–providing a contribution from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund to the General Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007;
–appropriating money for salaries for the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes;
— appropriating the sum of $4,545,538 from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007;
— appropriating funds to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2007, for operating expenses;
–appropriating the sum of $28,338,443 from the General Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007;
— amending the V.I. Code relating to lapse of appropriated funds;
–amending the V.I. Code as it relates to the molasses subsidy;
— appropriating $450,000 from the Land Bank Fund to the Department of Public Works for the implementation of road hazard mitigation measures at Hull Bay road, St. Thomas and for other related purposes;
–providing appropriations for salaries and operating expenses of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands and the Judicial Council for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2007, and for other purposes;
–providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Territorial Public Defender during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2007, and for other purposes.

All bills were forwarded to the full Senate body for a final vote.
Present during Thursday's meeting were Sens. Lorraine L. Berry, Roosevelt C. David, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Hill, Nelson, and Russell.
Noncommittee member Sen. Liston Davis was also present.
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