During session Tuesday, the V.I. Legislature unanimously overrode Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s veto to let the territory’s hospitals hire certain employees without treating them as public employees.
In March 2015, the Legislature passed an unfunded appropriation act [Act 7731] aiming to give both hospitals millions of dollars, in part to help Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital meet Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ requirements for continued certification.
Finance Commissioner Valdamier Collens testified at the time that the funds did not exist, but said the government would try to devote extra allotments to the hospitals when possible, if the bill passed. (See: Senate Passes Unfunded Hospital Appropriations Package in Related Links below)
The bill included a passage adding radiologists, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists and critical care physicians at the Gov. Juan. F. Luis Hospital and Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center to the list of government-paid employees that are not part of the V.I. civil service system of classified employees, and not subject to negotiated wage and salary agreements.
Later in March, Mapp vetoed that passage, saying, "I believe that this is simply bad public policy and, quite frankly, illegal."
"Singling out certain medical specialists (codified employees) for removal from the definition of a public employee, as defined by (law), to pay them higher salaries than similarly situated employees will have a discriminatory effect on those physicians (employees) not listed. Should we adopt this policy to recruit off island police officers or teachers?” Mapp said at the time.
On Tuesday, Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly moved to have the Legislature reconsider and override that veto. Senators voted unanimously to override the veto, enacting the measure into law. While senators did not debate or discuss the merits of the action, Mapp’s veto message indicates its purpose is to aid the hospitals in recruiting these categories of employees.