Published October 2, 2017
TWIN ARROWS – After careful deliberation and review by staff from the Office of the President and Vice President, Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of the Controller, President Russell Begaye signed the FY 2018 Comprehensive Budget on Saturday, Sept. 30, ensuring continued operations of critical services and programs to the Navajo Nation.
Fiscal responsibility and protecting the Navajo People’s money were guiding principles throughout the President’s review of budget line items in the comprehensive budget.
The Begaye-Nez Administration has remained consistent in allocating monies to tribal divisions and departments based on their strategic plans and support of the Four Pillars of the Administration – Navajo veterans, elders and youth, infrastructure and job creation. Critical and direct services provided to the Navajo people must also continue to be assessed and improved.
“Since day one, the administration has pushed our divisions and departments to improve effectiveness through strategic planning and budgeting. Every year as we formulate the budget, I’ve urged our division directors to prioritize the needs of the People and the Navajo Nation government in moving their budgets forward,” President Begaye said. “We must maintain and preserve the budget that was submitted by the executive branch as it was based on the needs advocated by the division directors.”
There were a total of 26 budget line item vetoes by President Begaye in the FY 2018 Comprehensive Budget. The president line-item vetoed allocations that lacked consistency with statutory purposes and administrative requirements; items that needed to be reconciled to reflect true and accurate amounts available; items that did not administratively adhere to existing budgetary policies; items that did not provide proper planning or needed further assessment; items that adversely impacted direct services while inconsistently penalizing employees and staff as opposed to reinforcing accountability; items that aimed to circumvent funds without proper expenditure plans in place; items that were short-sighted in facilitating accreditation; items aimed to transfer funds between accounts without adhering to statutory authorizations while violating existing statutes; items that were not consistently or strategically cost-effective; and items that contradicted the original intent of referendums in place addressing cost-cutting governmental services.
The Permanent Trust Fund (PTF) was created with the intent to grow its interest income to fund government projects and programs while continuing to grow the principal for future generations. The Nation must maintain fiscal discipline in utilizing the PTF as this account was never intended to become a rainy-day fund.
Growing the PTF allows the Nation to use a portion of the fund’s interest income to borrow large amounts of money to fund infrastructure projects while the principal continues to grow untapped. The Nation must protect the PTF for our future generations to continue to use in building the Navajo Nation.
“As President of the Navajo Nation, it is my fiduciary responsibility to oversee and administer the Nation’s budget while ensuring that direct services remain in place,” President Begaye said. “The line-item vetoes I put forth had undergone extensive review and consideration as they affected the critical services that our people need. The bottom line remains that I will continue to protect the money of the Navajo People.”
The Fiscal Year 2018 Comprehensive Budget begins Oct. 1, 2017.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.