Am. Samoa Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Signed Into Law

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Pay raises for Governor, Lieutenant included

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 1, 2014) – Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga yesterday signed into law the American Samoa Government fiscal year 2015 budget, which begins today.

The total FY 2015 budget of $424.48 million remains intact after Fono approval, and the governor did not line-item veto the one major change made by the Fono, in which $65,000 was slashed from the American Samoa Visitors Bureau budget and reallocated to the Governor’s Office to pay for the proposed pay hikes for the governor and lieutenant governor.

Pay increases for the two top leaders of the Executive Branch — hiking the governor’s pay from $85,000 to $125,000 and lieutenant governor from $75,000 to $100,000 — are outlined in a separate House bill still pending in the House Budget and Appropriations Committee.

No word yet as to when the House will decide on this measure. The House has also not acted on a Senate measure to increase by $10,000 across the board, the office allowance of each member of the Fono. Money is included in the Fono’s FY 2015 budget to cover these hikes.

The Visitors Bureau budget has been reduced from $900,000 to $835,000 to operate for FY 2015.

Lolo said in a letter yesterday to Fono leaders that the budget bill has been signed into law, and expressed appreciation to the Legislature for their work in collaborating with the administration’s various department and agency heads who testified during budget hearings.

"Preparing the territory’s annual budget is one of the most critical ongoing tasks and it is always gratifying to see it accomplished through a spirit of teamwork and cooperation between the Executive and Legislative branches of government," Lolo said, but made no mention of the Fono’s cut of the Visitor's Bureau budget.

Funding for FY 2015 comes from $106.24 million in local revenues; $102.0 million in federal grants in aid; $206.93 million in Enterprise Fund; and $9.27 million from federal Capital Improvement Projects.

According to the budget document, the total number of positions, or workforce for FY 2015, is 6,803 as opposed to 6,533 in FY 2014, which ended at 12 midnight last night. This reflects an increase of 270 positions which can be attributed to the Governor’s College Graduates Management Apprenticeship Program initiative, which has provided employment internship in government and in the private sector.

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