ASG Spending at this Time for Personnel Only

ASG spending for the 15 days of the executive order that the governor issued yesterday to continue government operations while the new fiscal year budget remains unsigned, will be limited to personnel only.

That’s according to a directive from the governor to the cabinet issued yesterday.

Governor Lolo Moliga said that other emergency spending needs are to be held off until the FY2021 budget is received from the Fono.

Lolo has told KHJ News that he cannot sign the FY2021 budget bill without knowing the budget items that the Fono has slashed.

He said what he was presented with shows the budget total and how much was reduced of the spending plan he proposed but the specific items that were reduced by the lawmakers are not shown.

He said the budget includes the new starting salaries for high school graduatES of $12,000 and $16,000 for AA degree holders, as well as the new starting salary of police officers which is $16,000.

He said if the cuts are to be made from personnel costs, the Fono needs to let him know so he can explain that to the people affected.

The Fono slashed the DPS budget by $760,000 and it’s the governor’s belief that the cuts will come primarily from personnel costs.

The Fono takes the position that the budget call issued in March directed that budget requests for the new fiscal year be held at FY2020 levels, that ASG has not met local revenue projections in previous budgets and that caution should be maintained because of the volatile status of the economy.

The governor said in his letter to directors yesterday that to remedy the budget predicament, he has called a special session of the Fono for 15 days compelling the fono to reconsider the FY2021 budget and to submit a budget that is “compliant with established policies and procedures.”

He has therefore established operating parameters to ensure compliance with his executive order limiting spending to the approved FY2020 budget level.

Lolo said controlled spending during the emergency period is warranted in case resources will have to be reapportioned to cover executed personnel actions implemented in FY2020.

In his executive order to continue government operations for 15 days lolo said “funds not otherwise appropriated,” will be used.

KHJ News has been unable to find out the source of such funds and how much is available to keep ASG opened until the FY2021 budget is finalized.

The view of senior lawmakers who have talked to KHJ News is that the governor can sign the budget and line item veto the changes he doesn’t agree with. And when the new legislature convenes in January, the next governor can introduce a supplemental appropriations bill.

The lawmakers are also questioning the legality of the governor’s actions to operate ASG on an executive order without the Fono approving the apprpations that’s keeping ASG afloat.

Photo: ASG

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