Recently, Governor Bryan expressed puzzlement as to why the Virgin Islands public would object vehemently against a new proposed online shopping tax. He lamented over the fact that our community has evolved into a “granny” in need of repair as it has aged badly. To improve, we need to produce new revenue. A nice sentiment, but not one the public is willing to buy.
Perhaps clarification for the Governor is in order.
Virgin Islanders object to new taxes because we have seen the results of government fiscal waste. We see non-collection of real estate and business taxes in the millions. We have seen grants ignored or forgotten, with funds lost. We have seen loans go uncollected and a pension system on the verge of collapse that is still giving out bonuses. We have lived for decades with over-the-top spending, bonuses, travel and perks that make our collective heads spin. In past years, warehouses have been discovered stuffed to the brim with rotting school books and educational supplies.
Our Luis Hospital, at this point, has temporary mobile units still waiting to be used, equipment yet to be unwrapped. We suffered the “necessary” sin tax, which was forced upon businesses to help our “granny” society, and still that wasn’t enough. We have consistently lived beyond our means, and pay the price for that.
Everyone wants a functioning community. We all agree that good public services are necessary for a good quality of life. And yet, no matter how many taxes are paid, our police and fire departments are in need of supplies, our education department is in sad shape — vendors are not paid and stop services, our mentally ill are forgotten on the streets or languish in an antiquated jail system, and our courts are begging for funding. We don’t even have the luxury of reliable power in our daily lives. The list goes on and on.
Mr. Governor, we don’t want another tax.
Efficiency and responsibility is what “granny“ needs in our government. Virgin Islanders, suffering harshly during the COVID pandemic, don’t need any more hardships.
— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at email@example.com.