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Education to Get $1M for Textbooks, Other Materials

Aug. 2, 2004 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on Friday signed into law legislation appropriating $1 million to the Education Department for the purchase textbooks and other instructional materials, Government House announced on Monday.
The money will come from dividends distributed by The West Indian Co. To the Public Finance Authority.
The measure, calling for the money to be divided equally between the two school districts, was passed by the Senate on July 13. It includes a number of amendments, some of which the governor vetoed.
(Meantime, also on Friday, Tregenza Roach, executive director of the Board of Education, said that Education Commissioner Noreen Michael had "identified" another $1 million "that was allocated for school maintenance," also to be divided equally between the districts. See "Tight Budget Makes It Tough to Maintain Schools")
According to the Government House release, Turnbull additionally approved:
– A section increasing the maximum loan amount available under the government's Micro-credit Program.. He said that as businesses develop and expand, the result will be increased taxes for the Treasury.
– A section changing the effective date of negotiated salary increases from fiscal year 2004 to the start of FY 2005. He noted the Senate's override of his veto of the salary increases approved by the Legislature for unionized workers other than teachers, "for which the administration insists there are no recurring revenue sources." He added, "I must strongly reiterate that it is now incumbent on the Legislature … to include in the fiscal year 2005 budget a source of recurring revenues to cover the salary increases."
– A section empowering the Office of Inspector General to conduct audits, inspections and investigations into any entity receiving V.I. government funds upon the request of the governor or the Legislature, or on the inspector general's own initiative.
The governor line-item vetoed the following portions of the bill:
– Sections appropriating from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund $22,000 for the Master's Touch Basketball Organization and $75,000 for the territory to host the 2005 annual conference of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. He said any diversion of money from the tourism fund "will seriously impact the funding of the marketing plan for the entire territoriy" and reiterated that it is "not fiscally responsible to appropriate expenditures knowing full well the monies do not exist."
However, he added that he would work with the Legislature to come up with other sources of funding for the NBCSL conference.
– A section appropriating $50,000 for a Caribbean Friendship Festival. He expressed support for the idea of having such a festival but said "the General Fund is over-obligated and cannot sustain this appropriation."
– A section granting raises to the central staff of the Legislature. Calling the measure, a minority amendment to the bill, "an unprecedented and surprising item," Turnbull called it "a violation of the separation of powers doctrine for the executive branch to set salaries for employees of the Legislature."
He added his belief that it is "within the administrative authority of the Legislature and the judiciary to institute pay increases for their respective employees without the executive branch's consent."

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