Budget Committee Chairman & Vice Chair Disagree

The chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee are not seeing eye to eye on whether the proposed FY2018 budget for ASG or the administration’s revenue bills should be reviewed first.

Committee vice chair Senator Tuaolo Fruean is for the revenue bills which were received a month ago should be discussed first.

Committee Chair Magalei Logovii reckons the budget which was submitted last week but hasn’t been introduced should take priority .

During the Senate session this morning Senator Tuaolo said the senate doesn’t have to wait for the budget but should do some work now on the pending revenue bills.

He told the Senate President if the Committee Chairman is not available to conduct hearings right away, he will make himself available.

Senator Tuaolo said that funding for the budget relies on the revenue measures and pointed out that ASG employees working only 70 must be restored to 80 hours.

But after he made that statement the Mauputasi stated there’s no relation between the new budget and the revenue bills.

Committee Chairman Magalei said there was a connection.

He felt there’s no need to rush discussion of the revenue measures most of which have a proposed effective date of next year or later, whereas the budget is effective October 1st,

Magalei, a former Treasurer and Budget Director, said the spending plan for the governor should be 100% not 90%…and added that a 90% budget should never have been submitted to the Fono.

He insisted that if additional funding is needed, it can be submitted as a supplemental budget .

Magalei said he was picked as chairman of the budget committee because he understands his duties as chairman. To which Tuaolo responded, that nothing of what Magalei was talking about with regards to the budget and the revenue bills was new to any of them.

Magalei countered that he is talking about a subject that he understands well while some Senators are talking about something they don’t understand.

He told Senators these revenue measures impact everyone and the Senate needs to hear from the Revenue Task Force, the private sector and other players before they make a final decision.

Senator Tuaolo didn’t hold back.

He said to Magalei if he understood what he was talking about, unspent ARRA (American Reinvestment and Recovery Assistance) funding would not have been returned to the federal governemnt.

Tuaolo pressed the Senate President to make a decision and he was available to conduct hearings on the revenue bills.

At the end of the discussion Magalei scheduled a hearing with the Revenue Task Force for 8:30 Thursday morning to discuss the money bills.

Senators who supported Tuaolo’s position to review these bills now instead of the budget first are Fa’amausili Mau Mau Jr.; Faiivae Iuli Godinet and Tuiagamoa Tavai. Tuiagamoa tavai said first come first serve.

Senate President, Gaoteote Togafau Palaie who remained silent during the exchange, said he welcomed the exchange of views but indicated support for Senator Magalei’s position to deliberate on the budget first.

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