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HomeGovernmentCongress approves $1 million appropriation for the Permanent Fund

Congress approves $1 million appropriation for the Permanent Fund

The bill passed on Sept. 26 and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill the following day

The Eighth Osage Nation Congress voted to appropriate $1 million to the Permanent Fund during the 2022 Tsi Zho Session as part of efforts to build up the fund for future urgent or emergency spending.

Bill ONCA 22-28 (sponsored by Congresswoman Jodie Revard) appropriated $1 million out of 2022 fiscal year tribal funding to go into the Nation’s rainy-day fund. The bill passed on Sept. 26 and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill the following day.

Revard said she sponsored the bill because “I feel like this Congress has been fiscally responsible to the point that we have money available in the FY 2022 general treasury to actually take this money and place it in our permanent fund. I really enjoyed the conversations around this legislation… I wish we could put more into that fund, but at this time I feel like we are being very frugal and responsible, so I would just say thank you and ask my colleagues to please support this legislation as presented.”

During a Congressional Appropriations Committee discussion on the bill, Congresswoman Brandy Lemon said she too favored the money come from unspent FY 2022 tribal funding, adding “this is not necessarily considered spending in my view, and it may be in others, but this is considered saving in my opinion.”

The Nation’s permanent fund is established in Osage law with restrictions on accessing its funding. Among the restrictions in law is: “The Osage Nation may not borrow, encumber by debt covenant or appropriate funds from the Permanent Fund except for expenditure on direct assistance by appropriation for the Osage Nation membership or by appropriation for government operations and government services in the event of a financial emergency due to insufficient funds in the General Fund of the Treasury.”

The $1 million appropriation to the Nation’s permanent fund comes two years after the then-Seventh ON Congress made an unprecedented vote to appropriate $8.1 million from the then $30 million permanent fund to continue government operations and services as the COVID-19 pandemic spread to Oklahoma in March 2020. The pandemic, at the time, resulted in a shutdown of Osage Casinos operations, along with other gaming tribes nationwide, therefore no tribal revenue was coming to the Osage Casino and government operations during the nearly two-month closure.

The Nation also applied for and received federal aid from other sources during the pandemic, which also helped keep crucial government operations going at that time. To view filed legislation and the Congressional calendar for scheduled sessions and committee meetings, go online to: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch

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Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.
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