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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


On the eve of a special legislative session called by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, few on the administration's fiscal team reportedly support a proposal that would generate about $11 million to fund step increases for public school teachers, support staff and paraprofessionals, according to sources in the executive branch.
The governor's proposal, which as of late Thursday afternoon had not been submitted to the Legislature, is moving forward despite advice from the government's financial consultant, First Union Securities, that it is not fiscally responsible. Legislative Post Auditor Campbell Malone has also dismissed the proposal as impractical.
The proposal would take up to $10 million from the Insurance Guaranty Fund, $4 million from the V.I. Port Authority and $1 million each from the West Indian Co. Ltd. and the V.I. Water and Power Authority to pay teachers.
Though $10 million is being sought from the IGF, only $5 million will be realized for the teachers because the remaining $5 million has already been committed to the general fund on the revenue side of the Fiscal Year 2001 budget. Of monies being sought from WICO and WAPA, $500,000 from each agency is also earmarked as a contribution to the general fund in the 2001 budget.
According to sources close to the administration, funds from the Public Finance Authority are also slated to be used to pay teachers.
Under the Turnbull proposal, up to $4 million is to come from Port Authority up front and will be repaid by the administration when it authorizes an increase in the funds the Port Authority will receive from the recently passed GARVEE bonds. The authority originally expected to receive $8 million but because of the cash advance, the Enighed Pond marine terminal project will see an increase to $12 million.
Legislative sources expect that senators will vote to approve the Turnbull financing plan to resolve the teachers' strike, even though funds for future fiscal years have not been identified.
Also, sources indicated that some senators have pledged to support the Turnbull bill only if a "cleaned-up" version of an early retirement-incentive bill is approved during Friday's special session. Turnbull last week vetoed the bill, citing "killer amendments" added at the last minute.

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