US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
Advocacy Day on the Hill represents an opportunity for groups to speak with elected officials on Capitol Hill regarding key issues. USVI representatives came together for their third year in Washington D.C. this week for the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Day on the Hill. Over twenty attendees broke off into three groups to best tackle all of the issues which needed to be addressed. The teams shared vital points with lawmakers which included a recovery update, health policy concerns, taxes, income and finally opportunity zones. They noted the importance of recognizing the Virgin Islands as requiring the same resources as other U.S. territories, citing examples of what the USVI is up against and options for moving forward.
Other challenges attendees mentioned that the USVI is facing, which are similar to our neighbors in Puerto Rico, include: structural deficits; population loss; heavy debt burden; disparate health and medical reimbursement; growing liabilities in our pension system; narrow revenue streams; crumbling public and municipal infrastructure; slow economic growth; and unfair competition from other Caribbean islands and countries.
These combined with the fiscal demands of the territory and recovery from both economic and natural obstacles left the USVI representatives with much to address. USVIHTA President Lisa Hamilton, who attended the important event, was very pleased with the discussions and takeaways from the meetings.
“The top three issues we focused on were recovery, health and taxes including FEMA’s stymied payments to the territory, the Medicaid cliff approaching in September and changes to the Federal EDA laws changing the USVI’s status to foreign, which is negatively affecting the program,” said Hamilton.
“All-in-all, it was a great Day on the Hill with representatives from both private and public sectors coming together to appeal to lawmakers on issues of critical importance to the Virgin Islands,” Hamilton added. “Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett and her team did an amazing job setting up this event.”
Click here for photos from the event.