SENATE UNHAPPY WITH BUDGET SUBMISSION ON DISC
The Fono received the American Samoa Government’s $456.30 million fiscal year 2014 budget yesterday, and as promised by the governor during his cabinet meeting two weeks ago, the budget details are on computer disc while a cover letter and budget summary are on hard copy.
During yesterday’s Senate session, Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao called on the Senate leadership to look at printing the entire budget details for senators due to the fact that not all senators have computers.
He says the cover letter and summary provides an outlook of the FY 2014 budget proposal but there may be senators who want to have a hard copy of the detailed budget to review.
Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono suggested that the Senate leadership issue a reply to the governor’s budget submission asking for hard copies of the detailed budget. He said every budget year, the Fono allocates money for the ASG Print Shop, one of whose many functions is to print the annual budget and not put them on computer disc or CDs.
Soliai also suggested that the Fono should first find out from the Legislative Financial Office, or the Fono’s budget office, the current status of the FY 2013 budget for the Fono before they go into full review and debate of the FY2014 budget.
He recalled that the first and second quarter performance reports of FY 2013 show an overspending by the Fono of the money budgeted for these two quarters and who knows what the third quarter will show.
Soliai said the Fono even received $500,000 under the FY 2013 supplemental budget but he is still concerned that overspending may end up putting the Fono’s budget in the red by the end of the fiscal year.
He said the Senate should hold a hearing, calling in officials of the LFO to explain what’s going on with the Fono’s budget, spending and expenditures before lawmakers deal with the government’s FY 2014 budget.
Sen. Mauga T. Asuega agreed that the Senate needs to get a much clearer picture of the Fono’s budget as the public is also waiting to see where this issue stands.
As to the new process of submitting the detailed budget via computer disc, Mauga said this is the first time in history that this has been done, when all these years it's been on hard copies, as budget books submitted to the Fono.
Laolagi, who is also vice chair of the Senate Rules Committee, says that he will discuss with Senate Pro Temp Nua Saoluaga the issue of hard copies of the detailed budget, and make a decision on getting the budget printed from the disc.
As for Fono spending, Laolagi said the leadership would communicate with the LFO on this issue for an update. Nua added that he would find an expedited way to obtain hard copies of the budget.
SCHOLARSHIP BOARD MEMBERS INTRODUCED IN SENATE
The governor’s nominations for the seven members of the ASG Student Financial Aid board (also known as the Scholarship board) — whose nominations are subject to Fono confirmation — were introduced in the Senate yesterday.
Rev. Kalepo Vaitautolu is to be chairman of the board, and other members include Evelyn Lili’o-Satele, Tamali’i Anesi Poloa, Rep. Vaetasi Tu’umolimoli Saena Moliga, Sen. Faumuina Tagisiaali’i, and Jeanette Yamasaki.
Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, has set a confirmation hearing for 8:30a.m. — on Thursday. In the House, where the nominations were introduced last week, the confirmation hearing is set for this morning.
According to the governor, Vaitautolu is a well-respected ‘faifeau’ and community leader for the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa in Vaitogi. Vaitautolu had worked for ASG for many years.
Lili’o-Satele recently retired from serving as principal of South Pacific Academy and she is a career educator, having spent more than 26 years with the local Education Department.
Tamali’i spent his career with the Education Department and prior to his retirement, he served as a program director during his several years in education administration.
Vaetasi was a career educator, retiring from ASDOE after 30 years before being elected last year to the House while Faumuina was a member of the South Pacific Academy board for eleven years and was a member of the National Education Association from 1972-1976.
Yamasaki has served as an executive in the private sector for more than 15 years and she is currently the human resources manager at Bluesky Communications.
Ex officio board members are the Education Department director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, Human Resources Department director Le’i S. Thompson (as secretary) and American Samoa Community College president Dr. Seth Galea’i.