JULY 14 — Delegate Donna M. Christiansen's bill to create a federally mandated V. I. financial overseer got a boost Wednesday. The House of Representatives Resources Committee unanimously voted to take it out of committee and to the full House for a vote.
The bill, which creates a chief financial officer independent of government but with veto power over government spending, has met with criticism from some V.I. senators and Gov. Charles Turnbull. They say it usurps the power of democratically elected officials.
Turnbull, who has repeatedly denounced the bill, sent a letter to at least one U.S. Congressman this week calling the bill "so deeply flawed that no amount of fine tuning can remedy its fatal defects."
Christiansen said the bill is necessary to stop government overspending that has put the territory in a bond debt for more than $1 billion.
Christiansen said the opposition of local politicians, most of whom are her fellow Democrats, has been fierce. However, she added in a press release on Wednesday, it "does not come close to the pain that would come from having the government collapse, knowing that I could have done something to prevent it, but did not."
If the House passes the bill and it becomes law, the financial officer would be named by the governor from three candidates chosen by a commission of government and non-government leaders.
Should the governor fail to decide, the chairman of the commission will chose. Christiansen said the chief justice of the Territorial Court would best fill the chairman positon.
The financial officer would be paid for by the V. I. government, but could not be fired. The law would end after five years, and, at that point, the federal government could choose to sign it into law again or not.
The next step for the bill is a reading before the full House. This is expected before its August recess, according to Monique Clendinen-Watson, Christiansen's chief of staff.
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