Admin introduces bill to fund gov’t operations as a stop-gap measure
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — When the Fono convened Monday this week, for an additional 15-days special session called by the governor, a new administration appropriations bill was introduced in both chambers.
The bill provides consolidated appropriations and temporary funding to continue government operations until action on regular appropriations is completed. Further, the bill allows for continuing appropriations and prevents a “funding gap and corresponding government shutdown” for the fiscal year 2021.
The legislation states in part that, appropriations and funds made available and authority granted pursuant to this Act shall be available until whichever of the following occurs first:
• the enactment into law of the applicable appropriations Act for fiscal year 2021
• expiration of a 30-day term following the effective date of this Act.
Following their discussions on Monday, the House amended its version of the bill to reflect a “60-day term”. It was approved in second reading yesterday and expected to go through third and final reading today.
In the Senate, senators return this morning to continue their discussions of their version of the bill, after lengthy discussions on Monday and yesterday — which included an explanation and questions raised with the Fono Legal Counsel Nathaniel Savali and Legislative Financial Officer Talalemotu Mauga.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Magalei Logovi’i said the appropriation bill doesn’t identify a funding source, as required by law for any money bill. Furthermore, there are no specific dollar amounts in the bill.
Magalei disagrees with claims made in the bill’s preamble that the FY 2021 budget was submitted by the Fono for consideration but it didn’t approve the budget bill.
The senator points out that the Fono acted on the measure sent to the governor for his consideration and approval.
As previously reported by Samoa News, the governor didn’t sign the Fono approved FY 2021 budget bill because of the $6.50 million in cuts the Legislature made to the budgets of several executive branch departments and offices.
According to the bill’s preamble, “analogous to the authority exercised” by the US Congress as well as US states and territories, “action must be taken to prevent funding gap and corresponding government shutdown.”
According to the legislation, the bill provides consolidated appropriations and temporary funding to continue ASG operations until action on regular appropriations is completed. It also allows for continuing appropriations and prevents a funding gap and corresponding government shutdown for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021.
The bill’s language states that the “following sums” are appropriated out of any monies in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated and out of applicable revenues, receipts and funds for the departments, agencies and other organizational units of the government including semi-autonomous agencies, the Legislature and the Judicial for FY 2021.
However, the bill doesn't provide specific amounts of the “sums” of money that is appropriated. No where in the bill is any dollar amount given.
The legislation also provides “limitation on appropriations”. For example, no appropriations or funds made available or authority granted pursuant to this Act shall be used to initiate or resume any project or activities for which appropriations, funds or other authority were not available during FY 2020.