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Branch chiefs expect scaled-down budgets

WINDOW ROCK

The three branch chiefs — President Jonathan Nez, Speaker Seth Damon and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne — presented their budget agreement of $167 million to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

The proposed budget includes $15,815,144 for fixed costs, $105,568,495 for the Executive Branch; $14,892,739?for the Legislative Branch; $14,924,653 for the ?Judicial Branch; $11,998,969 in non-administrative funds for the chapters; along with $3.8 million in external matching funds. This budget total is a $5 million decrease from last year.

It was only a year ago that Dominic Beyal, director for Office of Management and Budget, said that 2020 looked to be “dire,” due to the possible closing of Navajo Generating Station and Peabody’s Kayenta Mine. “When you see the revenue projection, it’s going to drop in 2021,” said Beyal. “A lot of us, we were fearful it would be 2020. Turns out it’s actually 2021.”

Now that NGS and the coal mine that supplies it are due to decommission in December, the three branch chiefs agreed to two funding amounts to be set aside for FY2021 budgeting: $10,958,583 in non-recurring funds will be placed in the Permanent Fund Contingency and $21 million from the Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance.

Currently the UUFB is at $42 million. “We are all looking to saving dollars for next year,” said Nez. “We all agreed that’s what we wanted to do, to put away dollars for next year, and reevaluate some accounts.” The $11 million in non-recurring funds is the one-time payment from Salt River Project, which was negotiated from the NGS closure. This amount was once at $18 million but after set-asides was reduced.


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About The 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.