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HomeNewsArchivesTURNBULL: CRISIS WON'T AFFECT STEP INCREASES

TURNBULL: CRISIS WON'T AFFECT STEP INCREASES

Sept. 25, 2001 – Government House issued a press release Monday afternoon saying the governor's financial advisers "have been meeting regularly" since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the mainland "to assess the financial impact of the crisis and to develop plans to counter an expected economic downturn."
But the release also stated that the administration "intends to move forward plans to place unionized government employees on their negotiated step increases."
The release came hours after a senator said on the floor of the 24th Legislature earlier Monday that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull wanted the lawmakers to "stop the step increases" scheduled to begin taking effect with the current pay period.
There was no mention in the release of Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen's comment in a full Senate session Monday that the governor "has been calling all morning to get us to stop the step increases." Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd subsequently told colleagues he had just telephoned Gov. Charles W. Turnbull about the matter — and that Turnbull's words to him were "I said no such thing."
The release stated: "There should be no retreat from the course this administration has set to provide some degree of economic relief to government employees."
The Legislature approved the step increases earlier this year after the administration announced a projected $100 million windfall in revenues for the current fiscal year. Talk of a possible retreat on the move came up in the Senate Monday in connection with debate over the state of the territory's economy.
In the Government House release, Turnbull referred to an "initial economic downturn as a result of the terrorist attacks" two weeks ago on the mainland. But it stated: "While there are sound reasons to proceed with caution and to curtail all unnecessary spending … there are no plans or intentions to roll back the salary increases that are the result of the administration's careful strategy to bring the territory from fiscal debts to recovery."
However, Turnbull was quoted as saying, "This is clearly not the time to engage in an unrestrained spending flurry until there has been a proper assessment of the long-term economic impact of the ongoing crisis."
Given the losses in revenue already being felt in the territory with tourist arrivals down to a trickle, at least five senators have called for a re-examination of the record $550 million budget now undergoing a final vote. There has been no response from the administration, and Sens. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and Norma Pickard-Samuel have said nothing is going to stop the budget worked out over two months by the Finance Committee and the majority bloc from being passed.
Government House also announced that Turnbull left the territory Monday afternoon to go to New York City. The purpose of the trip, it said, is to attend the funeral of a family member. The governor is expected to return to the territory "later this week," the release stated.

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