2014 TZI-ZHO SESSION DAY 13: The Fourth Osage Nation Congress will consider several reductions to the 2015 fiscal year boards/ commissions budget as well as decreasing the health benefit fund appropriation after hearing proposed cuts during the Sept. 16 session.
The boards/ commissions budget (ONCA 14-67) comprises budgetary items for the Nation’s advisory, regulatory and economic development boards, which are separate from any government entity the respective boards may oversee. Congresswoman Shannon Edwards proposed several reductions to budget items including travel, conferences/ special events and professional fees to boards including $5,000 in travel for the Health Authority Board; $4,999 in conferences for the Gaming Commission board and $59,000 in professional fees from the Health Authority Board.
The Congress will also consider reducing the appropriation bill (ONCA 14-78) for the Nation’s health benefit card fund by $1.5 million to $6.4 million to replenish the fund for the $500 health benefit card program ($1,000 for seniors over age 65). Congressman Ron Shaw proposed the reduction to the bill with an original request of $5 million.
The Congressional health/ social services committee initially considered ONCA 14-78 at its Sept. 11 meeting where Treasurer Callie Catcher noted the health benefit fund was nearly depleted with $600,000 remaining.
Catcher said the fund would need $1.5 million extra to cover balance carryover costs for unspent health benefit account money. Passed by the Third ON Congress, bill ONCA 13-21 amends the Nation’s health benefit act to allow health benefit card users to keep their unused account balances for up to three years.
After discussion and debate the committee voted to increase ONCA 14-78’s requested amount to $7.9 million and that figure will be subject to consideration as well as Shaw’s $1.5 million reduction.
Day 14 of the session starts at 8:30 a.m. due to the 10 a.m. scheduled Osage Minerals Council meeting. If needed, the Congress may recess the session so the OMC meeting can take place in the chambers building.
For more information on the Congressional Tzi-Zho Session, legislation and committee meetings, visit the Legislative Branch website at:www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/congress-legislative-branch.