Béeso wars

2018 budget, heading for line-item vetoes, culminates a divisive year


The Navajo Nation Council last Thursday voted to approve the FY 2018 Navajo Nation operating budget, which totaled $636 million — and division between the executive and legislative branches was already evident.

Added to the budget were 19 amendments that included carryovers to the Division of Natural Resources to provide funds for stipends for grazing officials, land board members and farm board members; $148,000 from the executive branch to the Phoenix Indian Center; $5.5 million, again from executive branch, to provide $50,000 to each of the 110 chapters to assist with home renovations and $764,000 to assist Naschitti Chapter in providing recovery funds for the Asaayi Lake wildfire.

Other carryover amendments were proposed but on the third day of budget discussion, Council Delegate Seth Damon informed his colleagues that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye sent a memo listing nine amendments, which included these carryovers, that he intended to veto.

In the memo Begaye stated the amendments would impact programs and even place some in deficit.

“I cannot support these amendments that would hurt the ability of our programs to carry out their functions adequately to our people,” stated Begaye in the memo.

Council delegates Kee Allen Begay and Steven Begay countered with a letter stating the president wasn’t available for any of the Council’s budget consideration hearings and he didn’t specify why he would veto the listed items.

“As representatives of our respective communities, we as elected leaders are confronted each and every day with the needs of our people as expressed in-person and through letters, phone calls, and chapter meetings, etc,” stated both Delegates Begay in the letter.

Tension between the two branches during the budget season is nothing new.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.