With what I consider a crisis at WAPA, I am sure the issue of privatization will once again be on the table. It is probably under the table already! It's an option for the territory to consider before the islands are hit by a rolling blackout.
Congress could act to help ease the budget pain in the USVI. For example, it could reform Medicare and Medicaid to bring as much as an extra $100 million to the USVI every year. Whether it will act is the question.
The USVI faces a host of economic problems made significantly worse by the impact of two hurricanes. Highlighting the facts is not just wallowing in doom and gloom, but an important part of facing them and making wise decisions.
Early in 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands was facing massive structural deficits, fast-rising debt, multiple ratings downgrades, an inability to borrow and no clear path to solvency. Hurricanes Irma and Maria have made the situation dramatically worse.
One potential revenue source for helping the government dig out from under its budget crisis is already here and ubiquitous – Cannabis. While opposition remains, the tide of public opinion is swinging towards legalization.
As the territory struggles with its budget crisis, Gov. Kenneth Mapp and members of the Legislature have talked about possibly consolidating some government agencies to save money by cutting administrative costs or operating more efficiently.
Sometimes making government functions more rational means consolidating duplicate agencies or folding small agencies into...
Many government departments have been plagued with excess overtime, persisting over many years. More than one audit has found a chronic lack of documentation to prove the overtime work actually happened.
The V.I. Legislature is better funded and far more active than most state legislatures. It may be too active, churning out new legislation that does little, and periodically getting embroiled in the internal management of different agencies.
Most large government agencies are starved for funds, not overfunded. But if we look closer, there may be room for surgical cuts that can move the deficit in the right direction and set an example by leading from the top.
In recent years the V.I. government has changed the laws to expand slot machine gambling, first to try to build hotels in the 1990s, then to help an existing hotel and in hopes of revitalizing horse racing.
Tax breaks granted by the RTPark have reduced corporate taxes paid to the V.I. government, but evidence that they have created significant numbers of new jobs or a thriving tech industry – the program's ostensible purpose – is in short supply.
The V.I. Government Employee Retirement System is heading toward insolvency. There are no good options left to prevent this from happening. It will sell all its assets and be unable to make full monthly pension payments by 2025 at the latest.
After several years of annual losses approaching half a billion dollars, Hovensa closed in 2012. The data shows the loss of revenues from the worldwide recession and the Hovensa closure are the largest culprits in the territory's structural deficits.
Since 1999 the Virgin Islands Source – the only online newspaper of general circulation in the U.S. Virgin Islands – has been providing the community with reliable, accurate and balanced local journalism.