Friday, May 13, 2011

43 Days Until the Election- Budget Priorities: Postage Stamps and Livestock Auctions

The short version of today’s truth:  You can usually tell someone’s priorities by what they spend their money on.  Some people like fancy clothes, some people like big trucks, some people collect Hummel figurines.  Hey, to each his own.  

But when it comes to the Cherokee Nation’s money, we think you can tell a lot about our elected officials’ priorities by what they spend money on.  We’ve talked about some the cuts the Chief made in the budget, which was down overall 6%.  But what we haven’t talked much about is what the tribal council did to that budget once they got ahold of it.  

So what did they do to the budget? The answer is next to nothing.  They made very few amendments in budget hearings.  To read the minutes yourself,  click here, then search the executive and finance committee for 2010, and click on the minutes of the 9/8/10 meeting.

Since we’re focused on the chief race, it should be noted that Councilor Baker made no motions whatsoever to change the Chief’s budget.  But, the whole council has to vote on the budget and when it was their turn to add money, here’s where they put it:

Roads, livestock auctions, sports teams, water lines, individual water and sewer assistance, rural fire departments, adult community assistance and the tribal council budget for in-district mailouts* (for the longer, more detailed list, see below) 

You can judge for yourself if those are the priorities you want from your elected officials, but if an incumbent tells you they don’t like what’s in the budget, and that it should have perhaps been spent on dentures or mammograms, remember-- when they had a chance to do so, they voted for livestock auctions and postage stamps instead. 

The minutes show that Councilor Baker did not make a single motion to change the budget. So, it seems a little late now to say that he wants to spend more money on health care when he didn’t even try to do it when he had the chance.

*The Details
The budget hearings show that the Council moved $300,000 from roads projects to pay for livestock auctions ($25,000), sports teams ($25,000), water lines ($100,000) and water and sewer assistance ($150,000).  Then, they moved additional money from something called IHS Admin to build more water lines.  They put an additional $150,000 to fund rural fire departments and $50,000 for something called adult community assistance. And the last thing they added to the budget for the fiscal year was $46,000 for in-district mailouts.

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