Senator Genevieve Whitaker, Along with Her Colleagues, Pass Critical Legislation
To Address the Solvency of the Government Employees Retirement System &
Commits to Assuring Accountability as GERS Moves Closer to Solvency
Yesterday, Senator Genevieve Whitaker joined with her colleagues of the 34th Legislature to sponsor Bill No. 34-0188, which is aimed at directly addressing the approaching insolvency of the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS) through a series of operational and financial actions, including the infusion of almost $4 billion into the system over the next 30 years. "While this bill addresses payments into the GERS over the next three decades, it allows us to meet the payment responsibilities to our current retirees while ensuring the stability of the system for those retiring in the next generation. Yesterday was a historic day, a demonstration of both branches coming together to avert a crisis, Governor Albert Bryan and his financial team and the Legislature led by Senator Kurt Vialet as the Chairman of the Finance Committee on the GERS Restructuring Solvency and Subcommittee on Economic Development and Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory who created subcommittees to facilitate the collaborative work Senator Whitaker took part along with all Senators through working sessions in crafting the language for the bill," states Senator Whitaker.
"GERS is not just about retirement checks; GERS represents 25% of the Virgin Islands' gross domestic product. That is one-fourth of our Territory's economy. We cannot allow the system to fail. It does not just hurt retirees; it hurts us all," Senator Whitaker said. The senator admitted hesitation before the session because she wanted to ensure that she was doing her due diligence and was not just going along without considering all factors. However, she noted that the testimonies received and the amendment to the bill assured her vote. "The fact that the PFA is finally moving to address the 2017 audit through the promulgation of rules means that the action taken today is not placing a burden on the people, but a measure to lift us out of the crisis."
Senator Whitaker serves as the Liaison to the Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs and with her vote, today reemphasized her commitment to the people of the United States Virgin Islands by saying, "I will continue to exercise my fiduciary responsibility and as I emphasized during the hearing I am in support of the effective and efficient management of the Special Purpose Securitization Corporation (SPC) to support ensuring the success of the entities mission to avert the collapse of the GERS." I also pledge to continue working with my colleagues and the stakeholders' groups and individuals to promote awareness, a public information campaign of the SPC coupled with efforts to stabilize our economy through the support for local economic development focused on developing a skilled workforce supporting entrepreneurial wealth-building initiatives.
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." Muhammad Ali ###