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The Good News Is That He Is Gone

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Dear Source:
The former Governor (I can't seem to find the will to say his name anymore) and the 26th so-called Legislature have proven to be even more despicable that even the most critical of us have stated. This latest 11th hour pay raise and the benefits they will accrue will be a lasting testimony to an era of mishandlings, greed, inability and corruption. I, like many others, have tried to find something that would shine some light on the past eight years but that optimism has past as of December 28, 2006. Like the Chinese call it-"The year of the Rat". The governor (note the lower case) has given himself a retroactive pay raise that takes effect on October 1, 2006, which just happens to be the beginning of a fiscal year. This means that he, like the lieutenant governor, and the legislature will get a pro-rata pay raise and an increase in retirement benefits based on that increase for life. Shame, shame, shame
The good news is that period in our history is gone and there still may be hope for the Virgin Islands with a new Governor (note the capitalization) and a new Legislature. There is already a petition to repeal the enacted law, which gave the pay raises. I, for one, can't wait to sign it. However, there may be an easier way to undo what has transpired. The 27th Legislature can, as a first act, repeal the law. The new Governor should make every effort, with his first weeks in office to present that repeal. To do otherwise, would lay suspicion on him right from the onset.
When the governor asked for a special session, there was some idea about the content for the reasons for the call. Generally, a special call by the governor means that some piece of legislation has some emergency attached to it. This was hardly the case and now we are stuck with not only an inappropriate pay raise, which was an "attachment" to an even larger bill but we have a huge debt to contend with which includes payments to contractors who messed up their paperwork. The bill provided for up to $600 million to help offset the unfunded liability of GERS. If the full $600 million is borrowed, it would cost the taxpayers almost $1.2 billion over the life of the loan. Another debacle is a $15 million loan so we can have more gaming on St Croix. My personal opinion on that is-if you want to build a casino, then get up the money or get out of the business. Why should the taxpayers of the Virgin Islands have to fund gambling in any way, even if it was intended to be paid back? The real problem is that we really don't have the money to do all these things regardless of what the balance sheet states. The governor had the audacity to include borrowed money as part of the cash on hand of the government, thereby showing that revenues were greater than expenditures. The reality is we have to pay it back so we don't actually have that cash the governor states we have. To add more debt now would possibly place the Virgin Islands into bankruptcy. Does the governor care? Of course not! He's gone and he will be happy on his new increase in retirement benefits.
I think the people of the Virgin Islands have had enough. This latest event is the straw that broke the back of the fiscal monster the government has created. We NEED to repeal what the legislature passed on December 28, 2006, as day that will live in infamy.
Shame on the senators who voted for the bill-you won't be forgotten. Another very disappointing revelation is that two senators-Barshinger and James didn't even show up! Their votes could have stopped this nonsense.
Please God, let the 27th legislature and the new Governor put an end to the nightmare we have just witnessed.

Paul Devine
St. John

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