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Togiola to address joint session as Fono opens

The governor's annual address before the 3rd regular session of the 32nd Legislature is scheduled for 10a.m. on Monday, January 9, at the Fono Guest Fale.

As of Friday, no official comment was available from the governor's office regarding the contents of the annual address, which is required by law.

It is expected that Gov. Togiola Tulafono will address several outstanding issues including the territory’s economy, ASG finances, recent infrastructure developments and health care issues such as short and long-term financial aid for LBJ Medical Center.

LBJ board chairman Moananu Va said last month the hospital is delaying the facility fee hike until Jan. 14, to give the Fono and governor enough time to come up with a financial package.

Once the Fono is in session, “we must have immediate consideration and approval of a supplemental appropriation of at least $4 million to allow us to pay all of those who have extended us credit,” Moananu said in a statement. “We also must have a commitment from the Fono to find workable, sustainable, reliable revenue stream for the long term stability of the Medical Center.”

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie has submitted, to the governor, the Fono's proposed short and long term solutions, to assist the hospital.

The Senate proposes introducing a $3 million appropriation bill, using excess funds in ASG's Workmen’s Compensation Account as the funding source, and also to re appropriate $1 million from the Insurance Proceeds Account.

The government’s financial condition is another serious issue to be addressed this session as lawmakers are expected to ask for additional information from ASG on their current status, heading into 2012 fiscal year's second quarter.

Togiola will resubmit, during this session, his nominees who were rejected during last year's second regular session; Jacinta Galeai as Education Department director; Seiuli Elisapeta Ponausuia as Health Department director; and Ivy Taufa’asau as chief procurement officer.

The appointment for the Agriculture Department director is expected to be announced soon since former director Lefiti Atiulagi Pese was appointed late last year as Secretary of Samoan Affairs.