President Begaye signs FY 2016 budget, avoids government shutdown

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - President Russell Begaye signed and approved the FY 2016 Navajo Nation Comprehensive Budget Sept. 30 and thanked all involved for passing a budget that reflects the needs of the Navajo people.

"We appreciate the hard work that was put into the budget, beginning with the departments that serve our people directly," he said.

Executive Branch division directors met with the Office of the President and Vice President to identify their budget needs and presented their report to the various oversight committees of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council during the budget hearings.

Begaye and Vice President Nez walked over to the Navajo Nation Council Chambers Sept. 30 to present the approved budget and offer rationale behind their approval.

"We have signed and approved the budget. The concept behind our approval was based in the One Voice, One Nation agreement. We wanted to maintain that philosophy and we evaluated everything based on that," Begaye said. "The budget we agreed to was the one with amendments made by the Budget and Finance Committee. We did veto several items where we felt we needed to have a voice in where those dollars are going to be placed."

While the president approved the budget, there were eight line-item vetoes and six conditions of appropriation that were also vetoed. Justification for these vetoes ranged from carryover amounts, duplication of services, budget amendments made from the council floor, and the need for further discussion between the executive and legislative branches.

"Many of the line item vetoes are the ones that were done here on the floor during the Navajo Nation Council Special Session regarding the budget. Many of them were carryovers," Nez said. "As was mentioned in our budget message, there is still some time for us to sit down and dialogue about the $2.5 million carryover of the Executive Branch as well as the $1 million carryover of the Legislative Branch."

Begaye thanked the Council for approving the budget after hours of debate and issuing forth the best financial plan possible for the 2016 fiscal year.

"We will work very hard to utilize our budget wisely and ensure that these monies are used to support our people that have the greatest needs: from our elders to our youth, our veterans," he said. "We need to utilize these funds to lift up our economy and build houses, roads and provide water and electricity to our homes that need infrastructure."

"This is what the Navajo Nation's money should be doing and we will commit ourselves to make sure that these dollars are spent in that way," Begaye added.

Nez thanked the chairman and members of the Nabi Committee and Council for avoiding a potential shutdown with the approval of the FY 2016 Comprehensive Budget, which, pursuant to law, has been approved by Begaye. He also noted that he looks forward to carrying on a partnership between executive and legislative to benefit the Navajo people.

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