After the governor’s rosy take on the government’s financial situation in his State of the Territory speech Monday, Senate Finance Committee chairwoman Sen. Lorraine Berry on Wednesday called on top administration members to be more specific.
Berry has called on the administration’s top money managers to testify at her committee’s next meeting, set for Jan. 18: Rudy Krigger, the governor’s assistant for fiscal policy; Ira Mills, director of the Office of Management and Budget; Claudette Farrington, director of the Internal Revenue Bureau; Bernice Turnbull, commissioner of Finance; Amadeo Francis, director of the Public Finance Authority; Keith Richards, Capital Improvements director and Lawrence Bryan, GERS administrator.
Berry said she wants more detail on the government’s recent $300 million bond issue, funding currently allotted to departments and agencies, account balance in the Transportation Road Fund, personnel actions and the estimated cost of bringing unions up to step.
Berry said she is especially interested in how the administration plans keep within the $432 million expenditure cap set forth in the memorandum of understanding with the federal government, reduce payroll by 5 percent yet bring public employees up to step, as Turnbull mentioned in his address.
She also wants an explanation of how the Transportation Road Fund went from a $2.2 million balance in fiscal year 1995 to a current negative balance of more than $10 million. Additionally, revenue into the fund dropped from more than $3 million in FY 1996 to $300,352 in FY 1997 and to just more than $14,000 in FY 1999.
"My understanding is that gasoline taxes and other revenues such as court fines normally associated with the Road Fund at the very least are $3 million a year," Berry said. "Additionally, can (the Department of Finance) from its records explain the drastic drop in revenues for fiscal years 1997 – 1999?"
Berry said the government’s bond issue of $541 million in May 1998 "supposedly" repaid all outstanding Transportation Fund bonds.
"Please explain what’s been happening to gasoline tax and other collections normally placed in the Road Fund," she asked Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull.
"As a means of further clarifying the status of fiscal, labor and capital improvement issues note in Gov. Charles Turnbull’s State of the Territory Address, it is essential that the Legislature obtain additional information in a number of vital areas," Berry said. "Mr. Krigger, in his capacity as the governor’s assistant for fiscal policy and economic affairs, will shed further light on all aspects of fiscal matters…"


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