Farmington — With 20 days left in fiscal year 2013, the Navajo Nation Council has approved a budget of more than $571 million for the coming year.
The 16 to 1 vote came Monday evening after the council added three amendments. Voting against the bill was council delegate Leonard Tsosie.
The council reconvened in a special session Monday to continue debating the proposed budget after delegates tabled it on Friday.
Tribal law requires the council to have an annual operating budget in place 20 days before the end of the current fiscal year.
"I'm hopeful and optimistic it will pass," delegate LoRenzo Bates said Monday in an interview before the vote.
Bates, who represents Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, T'iistoh Sikaad, Tse Daa K'aan and Upper Fruitland chapters sponsored the bill, which determines how much each of the tribe's three branches receives to fund the divisions, departments, programs and services.
It was recommended that the Executive Branch receive $516.8 million, the Legislative Branch $15.6 million and the Judicial Branch $14.9 million.
After devoting last week to the budget, the bill was tabled by a vote of 15 in favor and one opposed.
Delegate Jonathan Nez made the motion to table, it was seconded by delegate Danny Simpson.
Nez, who serves as vice chairman to the Budget and Finance Committee, reminded the council that the budget required a two-thirds majority vote to pass.
"The legislation requires super majority and we need full membership here," Nez said.
Tsosie voted against approval last week and urged the council to support a continuing resolution, which would temporarily fund the government.
Under a continuing resolution the Budget and Finance Committee would have had to draft new legislation without the 33 amendments and conditions of appropriations that were made during last week's discussion.
Amendments included provisions to allow carry overs for the council's five standing committees and for the Office of Legislative Services, provide a 3 percent general wage increase for tribal employees, and provide money from the personnel lapse fund and the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to pay for various tribal programs and departments.
Conditions on appropriations included making a request for proposals for the Institutions of Higher Education to conduct research for Navajo divisions, having the Department of Diné Education and the Division of Social Services develop plans to offer mini grants, and providing Navajo Head Start a tribal credit card with a monthly $50,000 expenditure limit to help the 96 Head Start facilities located on the Navajo Nation.
When the fiscal year 2013 budget was up for debate last September, the council issued a continuing resolution for six months.