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HomeNewsArchivesPUBLIC ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND FINANCE HEARING

PUBLIC ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND FINANCE HEARING

June 3, 2003 – Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg extended an open invitation to the public on Tuesday to attend Thursday's meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs.
The meeting is to take up the six bills submitted by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull late on the night of May 20 for consideration at a special session he called for May 22 to address the territory's fiscal crisis. At the end of the 11-hour special session, senators voted to refer all of the bills to the Finance Committee.
The proposals call for borrowing another $235 million, spending the money for projects including an $80 million hotel on St. Croix that the government would own, increasing key business taxes and imposing new ones.
Notable for the absence of measures to reduce government spending, the bills have generated strong opposition, especially from the private sector but also from a number of senators, including Donastorg, who commented at the May 22 session that administration officials were "stone crazy" if they thought he was going to sign off on the measures as proposed.
On Tuesday morning, a letter signed by all 15 senators gave the governor an ultimatum. Saying the Legislature "finds it difficult to incur more financial debt by borrowing money without a significant reduction in payroll costs," they called on Turnbull to rescind his November 2001 executive order that paved the way for nearly a thousand exempt and unclassified government employees to receive hefty pay raises a year ago when the governor was running for re-election.
"I know there are many concerned about the implications of these proposals," Donastorg said in a release issued on Tuesday. "I am certain that the business community, government workers and various other groups and individuals directly affected by this legislation will want to offer testimony. All are welcome to attend and take part."
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas.
At a press conference held jointly by Senate majority and minority members Tuesday morning on St. Croix, Senate President David Jones said that whatever fiscal measures are approved by the Finance Committee on Thursday will be taken up by the full Senate in its regular session scheduled for Monday.
Donastorg's release said those wishing to testify on Thursday should advise his office in advance by calling 693-3517. He also can be contacted by e-mail to Foncie2002. The release also said that those intending to testify should appear with copies of their prepared statements to distribute to the committee members.
The other members of the committee are Sens. Norman Jn Baptiste, Roosevelt David, Louis Hill, Shawn-Michael Malone, Luther Renee and Ronald Russell.

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