While Pawhuska locals are using washable paint pens this week to scribble “Go Huskies!” on their vehicles and business windows, a few Osage tribal members are using the same tool to promote a different message: “Pass the Budget!”
“We’re not trying to be radical,” said Osage tribal member Peaches McKinley, who along with others, was writing messages on her car windows. “But this has gone on long enough.”
Other messages written Tuesday: “Osage People deserve better,” “Stop the hypocrisy,” “For the people,” and “A House Divided Will Not Stand!”
The tribal members parked their vehicles in the southern end of the ALCO store parking lot at 12:30 p.m., took out several colored paint pens, brainstormed and wrote these messages referring to the yet-to-be-passed 2010 fiscal year budget for the Osage Nation’s Executive Branch and its government operations.
Writing the messages “was done on our own time, with our own resources,” said Osage tribal member Jennifer Tiger. “We’re just trying to be a little more vocal the best we can. It really should be everybody that should be concerned.”
Osage Nation government operations, that are now functioning under a continuing resolution, has a spending restriction which limits Executive Branch departments’ expenses to one-twelfth of the FY 2009 levels per month. The restriction could hurt operations or projects requiring funding surpassing the one-twelfth limit.
“It just puts everyone in a huge bind,” said McKinley, who is hearing of departments struggling to keep running despite the spending limit. “We didn’t do this to embarrass anybody, this was already out there anyway.”
The Osage News could not get more specifics Wednesday on how the Nation’s programs and departments are being affected by the one-twelfth spending restriction – pending Executive Branch approval of information that could be released.
Chief Gray told Congress “we are in real jeopardy of losing $20 million in federal funds awarded to us many months ago, and should we lose those funds, we are in further jeopardy of losing future funds” during his remarks on the first day of Monday’s 22nd Special Session. “As a result, the services that are offered by approximately 50 Osage Nation programs through federal funding will have to be discontinued or funded with tribal dollars.”
Congress meets again at 10 a.m. Friday and has slated committee meetings next week to focus on the budget items.
The Congressional Education Committee meets immediately following the Dec. 7 Congressional session and on Dec. 8, the Commerce and Economic Development Committee meets after the Congressional session and the Government Operations Committee meets at 1 p.m.