Good day my fellow Virgin Islanders, this is Allison “Allie” Petrus Democratic Candidate for Governor, and I am taking this time to talk to you about some of the official platform issues that you will be hearing from the Petrus/Sanes Team in the weeks, and months, ahead.
Today I wanted to begin with one of the most important issues facing our Territory – Our Economy!! In fact, this is only Part One of a Multi-Part Series I’ve entitled: “It’s the Economy, Period.”
However, before I begin, I want to take a moment to bring much needed attention to a disturbing issue affecting our National Guard men and women.
A little over two weeks ago I met with a group from our Virgin Islands National Guard, who expressed to me their gross mistreatment at the hands of our current administration’s leadership. With Senator Sanes and I, both being military veterans, we were alarmed to learn that our service men and women, after working tireless hours during, and after hurricanes Irma and Maria, were only paid less than half of what is owed to them, and when they raised their concerns, they were dismissed, and disregarded.
At that meeting I was shaken to the core by my encounter with a soldier that was visibly disabled by an incident he experienced while on duty. Once a solid young man, he appeared before me a shell of what he used to be; he could barely move his leg.
However, the unfortunate incident that caused his debilitation was not his greatest contention. But rather, the lack of concern by the current leadership to get him the proper medical attention, which was incomprehensible; it brought tears to my eyes, as it would to any caring person.
Being a soldier is an act of selflessness. I ask, and you must also ask, how could this administration stand by, and be a party, to this gross mistreatment of our National Guard soldiers who are serving our islands, and our communities.
As military veterans, both Senator Sanes and I consider this a complete miscarriage of God’s gift to us, which is the capacity to care for our fellow human being.
I’ve assured those who I met with, and I want to assure all our service men and women, and fellow veterans that unlike this current administration, the Petrus/Sanes Administration will not only govern with compassion but will show the respect due to those who answer the call to serve.
Now, to the Economy. As I stated at the beginning of this series: It’s the Economy – Period! And the Economy is about business development, and job creation opportunities for our fellow Virgin Islanders.
In these perilous times we find ourselves in, it is more important than ever Voters recognize, we can’t afford to make the wrong choice again.
Unlike the current administration that promised thousands of jobs in 2014 that never happened, the Petrus/Sanes team is not about false promises because our campaign team not only has the experience but also the track record when it comes to creating jobs in the small business sector, having created over 150 private sector jobs.
We now want to convert the lessons that we have learned from the creation of these jobs on a micro level (meaning our own small economy) to a macro level meaning the larger economic scale of our entire Virgin Islands.
In order for our economy to recover, it must be done through the development of our private sector. According to the Bureau of Economic Research, our private sector accounts for roughly 70% of our jobs, while the public sector is responsible for close to 30%.
While the government sector serves an important function, it is not designed to generate any revenues. Revenue generation comes from the private sector development in the form of taxes.
When new businesses are developed, the hired employees add to the largest tax/revenue category called Individual Income Tax. During the 2016 fiscal year, of a $900 Million budget, this tax category brought in $373 Million, or 41% of the government’s revenues.
It’s important to note, population shrinkage affects this most critical tax category. When people leave the islands in mass numbers, this tax category will shrink.
So we must not take it lightly when after the storms, our current Governor said “If they (the citizens) don’t like it, they can take the next flight out.” Such cavalier statements cut at the heart of the erosion of our tax/revenue base.
When new businesses are developed, they add to the government’s tax/revenue category called Gross Receipts.
During the 2016 fiscal year, the government collected $160.7 Million in this category. Of the $160.7 Million, $157.7 Million, or 98% of Total Gross Receipts collected, went towards paying the debt service on our bonds.
It’s important to note, this left only $3 Million from Gross Receipts collected, that would then go to the General Fund. As many of you know, the General Fund is responsible for the payout of major areas such as payroll, etc…
In the business world, and also with the leadership of government, it is important to understand the financial performance (Income Statement) of your operation. When a new business is developed, it pays into the Revenue side of our financials.
So therefore, in order to increase our revenues, we have to grow the private sector. In our 2016 budget, our actual revenues stood at $673 Million.
On the flip side of the coin, is the expense side. Unlike the revenue side, the expense side has more to do with individual spending discipline, and judgement, than it does with factors having to do with economic activities.
I submit to you, poor judgement and the lack of discipline can lead to poor spending decisions.
Do you buy bed linens with high fiber counts for thousands of dollars, or do you simply buy a bed sheet for less than $100 dollars. Do you spend hundreds of thousands on bullet proof limousines, or do you spend that money on our children’s education, knowing you will get a return on that investment?
Again, spending, which affects the expense side, is an exercise of individual discipline.
In 2016, the current administration spent $902 Million, brought in $673 Million, and therefore had a deficit of some $228 Million.
Controlled spending is an individual discipline. Don’t chuckle when I tell you, my friends and family call me El Cheapo, because I hate to spend a bad penny.
My greatest pride is turning a penny into $1 Dollar, and that is what we need to do for our Virgin Islands, we need to create more new business development therefore revenue, and unlike the current administration, we need to reduce excess, and unnecessary spending.
It is important for you to know that your candidates understand the basic fundamentals of budgeting and priority spending. I would not be in business today, after 15 years, without this basic understanding.
I would like to thank the many who came out to our block party last Friday at the Petrus Plaza.
This upcoming Friday the Petrus/Sanes Team will provide another opportunity to Meet the Candidates and this will be at the La Reine Chicken Shack on St. Croix.
Again, this Friday at the La Reine Chicken Shack will be an opportunity, once again, with a Free Jam, to meet the Petrus/Sanes Team. It will start at 7:00PM
Music will be provided by Fusion Band and Spectrum Band. Please bring the family down to meet us, all are invited, all are welcome, and we look forward to seeing you there.
Until Next week, same place and same time, where I will present Part 2 of the Petrus/Sanes series of our platform issues and our plans for fixing the Virgin Islands Economy.
Until, All In, All In with Petrus/Sanes