Navajo president vetoes funding for non-emergencies

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) 3-08

Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. said recently he vetoed an appropriation that was meant to provide relief for weather emergencies because tribal delegates had tacked on millions of dollars for unrelated projects.

Shirley said he had requested $1 million to help the tribe recover from winter storms that left many roads across the sprawling reservation impassable.

“However, with one amendment, requests to fund projects, which were not emergencies, ballooned to an amount of over $17 million,” Shirley said in a veto message to Navajo Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan.

Shirley argued that the emergency funding should have been separate from legislation requesting money for scholarships, housing, veterans and public employment projects. He said the council sought to use money from the tribe’s Grant Reserve Fund for the non-emergencies.

“Using funds for purposes other than those intended, as this resolution authorizes, sets a dangerous precedent and leaves other funds vulnerable,” he said.

The request for weather-related funds was in response to the state of emergency declared Jan. 28 by Shirley and the Navajo Commission on Emergency Management. Shirley’s office said the state of emergency remains in effect.