Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement regarding Governor Bryan’s second State of the Territory Address:
“Last night, the governor of the Virgin Islands shared his second State of the Territory Address. I was privileged to be a part of the ceremony and to be there to receive his remarks. Governor Bryan outlined many projects and ideas to move the territory forward. I stand ready to continue working with his office to realize full prosperity for all the residents of our islands.
“Many of the successes discussed by the Governor included areas for which legislation or administration through the federal government took place. I am grateful for the confidence of the people of the Virgin Islands to be their representative at the federal level and to lead the charge in Washington.
“I am proud that my team and I led the way in securing the expansion of Virgin Islands’ Medicaid coverage through fiscal year 2021, effectively avoiding the Medicaid cliff that loomed over our territory. As clarification to the Governor’s remarks last night, we have secured, through legislation that I authored, the change in federal share from 55 percent to 83 percent and $252 million in additional funding. Additionally, I am grateful for the support of numerous Members of Congress, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who joined us in penning the letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, which convinced him that the Virgin Islands’ funding should not be tied to Puerto Rico. This allowed us to receive specific funding of our own. The separate allocation of $774 million in HUD and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding was a direct result of these efforts. Furthermore, our legislation to remove statutory caps on Federal Emergency Highway funding has been instrumental in bringing more revenues to the Virgin Islands.
“I was glad to hear the Governor discuss pursuing the argument we made in 2016 regarding the lack of appropriate adjustments in the worldwide rum cover over allocation by the Department of Treasury under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. At that time, it was estimated the Virgin Islands Government was owed approximately $100 million dollars. I welcome the Governor’s commitment to this pursuit and the plans to utilize this funding for the Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS). I was also encouraged by the Governor’s discussion of changes in WAPA personnel, management and operations. I will wait for details on how this will be executed.
“It is a privilege to work collaboratively with the Governor and the people of the Virgin Islands. It is my hope that we continue to work together to rebuild and re-establish ourselves in the best position to benefit not just ourselves, but generations to come.”