Oct. 4, 2006 — "The revenues of the government, for the first time in recent memory, are high enough to sustain all the money appropriated by the Legislature and more," Gov. Charles W. Turnbull wrote in a letter to Senate President Lorraine L. Berry.
Turnbull said it is because of this that he did not veto any part of the fiscal year 2007 executive budget, which, according to the Legislature's post-audit staff, totals approximately $829.1 million.
Turnbull signed all the budget bills into law Wednesday, calling them a "testament" to the administration's need to "improve our financial situation."
"Indeed, we have come a long way since the dark clouds of fiscal bankruptcy hovered over us ." Turnbull wrote.
The bills include budget appropriations for central government departments and agencies, the territory's two hospitals, and the government's semi-autonomous institutions, such as the University of the Virgin Islands. Some of the budget bills also make contributions from various government accounts to departments, agencies, organizations and the General Fund.
The Legislature's $18.9 million operating budget is also included, along with a $26.4 million budget for the Superior Court.
Sen. Louis P. Hill, chair of the Senate's Finance Committee, said late Wednesday afternoon that he is "extremely pleased" with Turnbull's decision to approve the budget.
"The budget process was thorough, and we acted responsibly by working within the revenue projections we had been given by the government's financial team," he said.
In late August, Hill announced that revenue projections had been adjusted upward to $835 million — $86 million more than what was originally projected in March, when the budget was initially submitted by Turnbull to the Legislature.
During the budget markup process, which ran from Aug. 24 to Sept. 6, majority senators took advantage of the projected increase by adding several appropriations to the miscellaneous section of the budget, which now totals approximately $192.4 million.
On Wednesday, Hill said that while new appropriations were added, senators still remained "conservative" by prioritizing spending. The budget, he said, focuses particularly on health care and capital projects, along with social initiatives and youth programs.
During recent budget meetings, senators said they were also proud of appropriations which "look toward the future" — including $40 million earmarked for the unfunded liability plaguing the Government Employees Retirement System, and a $10 million appropriation for the government's "Rainy Day Fund."
In anticipation of rising utility costs, senators also appropriated more money across the board for departments and agencies to pay utility bills.
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