83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 17, 2024


Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed into law Friday a bill sending all of the V.I.'s monies from the tobacco settlement to health care, and another proposing a new financing concept for some long-awaited transportation projects.
On the tobacco settlement bill, the governor line-item vetoed the words, "on any bond issue," because, he said, they create an "impermissible ambiguity which might result in an attempt to include the interest earned on non-health related bond proceeds in the fund which could endanger the government's overall bonding structure."
The bill will provide for the construction of a cancer center on St. Thomas at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital, a cardiac center at the Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix, and other long-term health care concerns.
The transportation bill, sponsored by Sens. Roosevelt David, Lorraine Berry and David Jones, and backed by the administration, allows the government to issue up to $75 million in Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, or GARVEE bonds. It authorizes the Public Finance Authority to sell the bonds, which would be backed by the territory's annual $12.7 transportation grant from the Federal Highway Administration
Advantages of the GARVEEs, pointed out by Legislative Post Auditor Campbell Malone at a Senate Finance Committee meeting in August, are that projects can go forward immediately with upfront cash and be paid off over several years, thus accelerating the work.
The bonds do not affect the territory's credit rating or borrowing capacity. The disadvantages, he said, are increases in interest and insurance costs and limited flexibility in use of future federal funds.
Rudolph Krigger, the governor's assistant for fiscal policy and economic affairs, said in August the GARVEEs have already been sold by eight states and have the support of the FHA. He said the bonds present an "innovative approach" to using the territory's annual transportation funds more constructively.
Projects to be constructed under the funds include the Christiansted By-Pass on St. Croix, the Enighed Port Marine Freight Terminal on St. John and the Red Hook Marine Passenger Terminal and Freight Facility on St. Thomas, along with territory-wide road patching and paving.
The governor line-item vetoed amendments to the bill including a zoning change on St. John, because it never went through hearings and residents weren't informed of the change. He also put a line-item veto to a $300,000 appropriation to construct public restroom facilities on Bordeaux Mountain on St. John because the fund for such work is currently "over-appropriated."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.