The League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands is outraged in this Christmas Season.. Approximately ten days ago, the Commissioner of Finance spoke out and by so doing, vindicated the LWV-VI which for many years had deplored the fiscal irresponsibility of both the Executive and Legislative branches and annually forecast the inevitable shortfall between the levels of expenditure and revenues. No one paid any mind to the Commissioner, either.
To the League, the actions of the Governor and the 24th Legislature in this pre-Christmas gift to themselves is a slap in the face, a gesture of great disrespect, and even more so to the taxpayers of the Virgin Islands.
The not yet sworn-in President of the 25th Legislature is quoted as acknowledging the cash flow problems, but is expecting several new government initiatives to fill the gap, "if they are successful." What if they are not?
By what stretch of the imagination did the 24th Legislature carry out the will of the people by making video lottery terminals legal in the St. Thomas/St. John district only? This is the same district that has over and over shown its disinterest in increased gambling by voting "no" to casino gambling. Was it respect for, or pressure by, the Casino Control Commission that led to the omission of the St. Croix district? And in St. Croix, how many fiscal years will it take to build a new convention center, a joint venture with Golden Gaming, get it up, running, and creating real revenue?
In his transmittal letter to the Legislature, Governor Turnbull wrote, "The department and agency heads of the executive branch now receive a salary in excess of that paid to our highest elected officials." This problem was not created overnight. Surely enough time has elapsed to permit a more fitting and equitable solution. Has it really been necessary for the salary differentials between levels of management positions to be 10 percent and more?
In a cash-poor, floundering, insular economy this legislation is a lawless, irresponsible way to go.
Editor's note: Erva Denham is the president of the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands.
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