Government

Congress passes FY 2022 budgets for three-branch government

The Seventh Osage Nation Congress passed the government operations budget for the 2022 fiscal year during the Tzi-Zho Session.

At the session’s start on Sept. 7, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear told the Congress “You will be tackling, debating, seeking information, making big decisions on the largest budget the Osage Nation has ever had. And the income from various enterprises, federal government and our programs make up this income and there are proposed expenditures which you will have to make decisions on, which will not only affect us in this fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 but for many years ahead.”

Standing Bear said the Nation’s FY 2022 projected revenue figure (previously approved by Congressional resolution ONCR 21-08) is $68,327,405 with $58 million coming from the Gaming Enterprise in tribal distributions to the government. “That is a tremendous increase from where we were last year at $46 million. Of course, COVID really hit us hard during that previous year and then we had recovery time in this fiscal year on gaming.”

In his executive message, Standing Bear also noted the Gaming Enterprise Board “has saved money in case the delta or other variants of COVID cause (another casino-wide) shutdown we experienced in 2020. The Chief Financial Officer (for Osage Casinos and the gaming board) reported last month they have in reserve $20 million to face any possible reaction to these new COVID variants.”

Standing Bear said the Nation’s non-tribal funds for FY 2022 is projected to be $40 million with $34.8 million in federal dollars coming from mostly grants excluding American Rescue Plan Act funding. In the second-round distribution of ARPA funding, Standing Bear said the Nation is receiving $29.2 million. He also noted there are ARPA funding opportunities separate from the two rounds of distribution that have passed and the Nation has started applying for those ARPA funding opportunities and so far, the Nation is receiving $12.3 million from those efforts so far.

Altogether, Standing Bear said the Nation has a historic $150 million to budget for the new fiscal year. “We understand the difficulties and the administration will support you in this large task because this is bigger than any of us, we’ve got to make the right decisions because we’re all going to be held accountable in the future,” he said.

Speaker Angela Pratt said in her legislative message that it’s important that Congress receives accurate communications from the Executive Branch to consider and approve the budgets. “It’s one thing to make an effort to send what you can, but we have to have accurate information and I know that the accounting office, the Treasury has been working hard, but there’s still a lot of struggles at this time and so we are just hoping to receive the best information that we can, the most accurate information in order to make really good decisions because we are hindered in doing our jobs if we don’t receive those things,” she said.

Throughout the session, the Congressional select and standing committees held various meetings to initially consider the budgets by branches, departments, programs, boards, commissions and entities under the Nation’s government. The respective Congressional committees that initially considered the budgets by jurisdiction include Government Operations, Health & Social Services, Commerce, Gaming and Land, Culture, Education, Membership and Congressional Affairs.

Executive Branch staff also participated in the budget meetings with the committees including those in the Office of the Chiefs and accounting staff while the Treasurer’s position remains vacant after Jim Littleton’s resignation in May. For the accounting office, Controller Tyler McIntosh and Assistant Controller Ryan Armstrong met with the Congressional committees on the budgets and information requests.

The following FY 2022 budget bills approved by Congress as of Sept. 29 are:

-        ONCA 21-92 (sponsored by Congresswoman Paula Stabler) is an act to provide an appropriation to the Osage Minerals Council in the amount of $1,257,723.

-        ONCA 21-93 (Congressional Second Speaker Jodie Revard) is an act to provide an appropriation to the Legislative Branch in the amount of $2,039,188

-        ONCA 21-96 (Revard) is an act to provide an appropriation to ON Tribal Works in the amount of $1,845,854.

-        ONCA 21-98 (Revard) is an act to provide an appropriation to the Executive Branch in the amount of $49,919,960. This budget bill comprises the various departments and programs for the Nation, as well as the Office of the Chiefs and various boards and commissions. These entities’ budgets are funded with tribal money and program revenue.

-        ONCA 21-110 (Revard) is an act to appropriate non-tribal funds to the ON Judicial Branch in the amount of $108,791.

-        ONCA 21-111 (Revard) is an act to provide an appropriation to the ON Judicial Branch in the amount of $819,554.

Other budgets awaiting final votes are:

-        ONCA 21-91 (Stabler) is an act to provide an appropriation to the three ON Village Committee Funds in the amount of $453,220.

-        ONCA 21-95 (Revard) is an act to provide an appropriation to the Executive Branch in the amount of $40,842,292 in non-tribal funds.

-        ONCA 21-97 (Revard) is an act to authorize the Nation’s Indirect Cost Departments to expend monies appropriated through the FY 2022 appropriations bills.

For more Congressional session information and to view filed legislative bills/ resolutions, visit the Legislative Branch website at: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch