78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 21, 2024


We heartily commend Gov. Charles W. Turnbull for doing the right thing for the right reasons in vetoing the Prosser bill.
In saying that the bill was not in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands, the governor displayed integrity and intelligence. In spelling out why, he made it clear that he will not be party to special-interest legislation that violates the U.S. Constitution, federal law, the Organic Act and common sense.
Everyone from an investment counselor to the Virgin Islands inspector general to the head of the Central Labor Council said in no uncertain terms that the Prosser bill was not in the best interest of anyone except businessman Jeffrey Prosser and his retinue.
It was certainly not in the best interest of the unionized government employees it purported to benefit, and who wanted no part of the land-for-tax-breaks deal.
Even those of us who are not financial experts could see that trading long-term tax revenues for questionable returns was dangerously ill-advised in our current economic climate. The prospect of giving 30 years of open-ended benefits – with no cap on the level of the tax breaks for those 10 companies – was particularly frightening.
We hope that if and when this or a similar "deal" comes back to the table, as it probably will, the governor and his advisers pay close attention to how it will infuse the treasury with cash right away — not five or seven years from now. To hear the governor speak since his inauguration, we do not have five or seven years.
We hope they will hire honest, independent financial analysts to review everything under the microscope of economic reality.
We hope they will demand full public scrutiny before a deal is approved, not after the fact.
We hope they will realize that it is bad public policy for the Legislature to pass special-interest deals for companies that legitimately fall under the Industrial Development Commission's purview – and that it is time to review and revise IDC policy, as has been discussed for years.
We also hope they will consider the ramifications of giving huge tax breaks to any telecommunications companies in light of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. As we understand the intent of the monopoly-busting act, we would be bound by law to give the same breaks to any telecommunications company that wants to set up business here, thus seriously eroding our tax base.
We cannot afford to keep giving it all away for a promise down the road of some nebulous return.
But for today, at least, we are breathing a little easier knowing there is someone in Government House who is in touch with financial and legal reality — a meaningful reality for all Virgin Islanders, not just the privileged few.

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