Thursday, May 12, 2011

44 Days Until the Election- Budgets: When What is True Isn't Always the Truth II

As discussed yesterday, the Baker campaign has been talking about budget cuts. Scroll down to page 6 of this Cherokee Phoenix issue to read for yourself. 

Today, we'll address his claim that Chief Smith cut the budget 25% for something called the Cherokee Kids Program, and that cut amounted to $20,000.

Is it true?

The Cherokee Phoenix did confirm (scroll down to page 10) that the Cherokee Kids Program was cut $20,000, which was a 25% cut for that program. For reference, $20,000 equates to roughly 0.034% of the entire Cherokee Nation budget.

However, one of the last things added to the budget, by a motion from Council Member Tina Glory-Jordan, was $46,476 for Tribal Council Community Mailings.  That means the council voted themselves money to mail stuff to you.  Less than half of that would easily have paid for the Cherokee Kids Program, but it doesn’t appear that was an option.

Remember, the Cherokee Nation budget is a zero sum game.  The Constitution mandates a balanced budget, so we can’t spend more than we have.  That means every dollar we spend on education is a dollar we don’t spend on health care, and the Council always has the last say.  The Chief can only propose a budget; the council can change it however they want, and when it goes back to the Chief he can either a) approve the budget or b) veto the whole thing. If the Chief vetoes, the Council can choose to override the veto with a 2/3 vote.

So, if the Cherokee Nation’s budget has any line items in it that you like or don’t like, there are almost always at least ten people to blame or to thank--- a majority of the tribal council (nine) and the Chief, who has to sign or approve the budget.  

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