ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Kurt A. Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, and received testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States (GVI). Invited testifiers are officials from the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (DOL) and the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (DOT).
The proposed recommended FY 2022 budget for the Department of Labor totals $8,602,344 for the General Fund. In comparison to the FY 2021 budget totaling $8,069,238, the request represents an increase of 7% or $533,105, according to DOL Commissioner Gary Malloy. The FY 2022 budget breakdown is as follows: $4,915,569 for personnel services, $1,986,497 for fringe benefits, $225,558 for supplies, $1,265,917 for other services, $154,802 for utility services, and $24,000 for capital projects. Overall, the total operating budget for DOL is $19,669,630. In addition to the General Fund, Malloy noted that the breakdown of FY 2022 budget resources consists of $650,885 for Indirect Cost, $92,663 for Unemployment Insurance, $200,049 for At-Risk Youths, $8,057,326 for the Federal Fund, and $1,767,728 for Government Insurance.
Moreover, some of the FY 2022 goals of DOL consist of improving data collection and reporting to provide insight on the workforce, reestablishing DOL as the leader in the workforce arena, and forging new partnerships to improve workforce performance. Furthermore, Malloy noted that within the next two fiscal years DOL is working towards conducting a Territory-wide economic analysis, to increase youth credentials per the standards of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Negotiated Performance Goals, and to streamline the process of the Unemployment Insurance. Presently, Malloy indicated that one of the major accomplishments for FY 2021 was filling forty-one vacancies from October 2020 to June 2021. Sen. Vialet inquired about the remaining vacancies and the breakdown of the funding source. In response, Malloy mentioned that there are 26 vacancies and of that 9 are new positions. There are 14 General Fund vacancies, 10 that are federally funded, and 2 that are financed by the Government Insurance Fund.
Separately, the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte noted that the governor’s recommended FY 2022 budget totals $2,715,632 for the General Fund. This is an 11% or $263,123 increase in comparison to the FY 2021 budget totaling $2,452,509. The FY 2022 budget breakdown consists of $1,811,057 for personnel services and $904,575. Furthermore, the overall budget totals $25,715,632, and out of that $23,000,000 is for the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund (TARF). The Appropriated funds total $2,000,000 of which there are $29,000 for supplies, $971,000 for other services, and $1,000,000 for Sports Tourism. Moreover, Non-Appropriated Funds totals $22,000,000 representing a significant increase in comparison to FY 2021 totaling $13,000,000. Boschulte defended the 69.2% increase citing that the funds are needed for daily operations of DOT, marketing, and promotions of the Territory. Furthermore, a portion of TARF includes the Advertising-Creative Development Contract, Marketing/Public Relations, the Greeters Program, dues and fees, administrative contributions, and miscellaneous. Regarding the Division of Festivals, Boschulte stated that TARF appropriation totals $1,000,000. The monies are divided into three categories: $389,000 for the Carnival of the Virgin Islands, $220,000 for the St. John Celebration, and $391,000 for the Crucian Christmas Festival. ###