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President Nez signs continuing resolution to keep Navajo government operating

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a continuing resolution to fund the tribal government through Dec. 30.

The action was announced on Sept. 28 in a press release from the Office of the President and Vice President. It stated that Nez, along with Vice President Myron Lizer, approved the Sept. 25 resolution by the Navajo Nation Council to keep funding intact while discussion continues on the comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2021.

The council resolution waived provisions in tribal law and starts the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Delegate Raymond Smith Jr., vice chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee, introduced the emergency legislation on Sept. 25 after the council tabled Legislation No. 0224-20, which sought to approve a comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2021.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, right, and Vice President Myron Lizer, seen talking with Delegate Eugene Tso in this  July 15, 2019 file photo, called a stopgap measure to keep the tribal government funded "a temporary fix" and "the result of a collective failure of the budget process."

Smith's bill was approved in a vote of 19 in favor and one opposing vote by Delegate Carl Slater.

The bill was introduced because the council needs additional time "to conduct a thorough and complete budget process" because of the new coronavirus, which interrupted the normal process for undertaking the budget.

Additional time allows for "careful consideration" of the comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2021 and a "detailed examination of the needs" of the tribe, the bill stated.

Nez and Lizer took issue with the council's approval in a memorandum to Speaker Seth Damon, calling it "a temporary fix" and "the result of a collective failure of the budget process."

The two leaders also expressed concern about the Sept. 25 resolution's impact on a similar resolution the council enacted in July, which has not been rescinded.

"We understand that many Navajo citizens rely on services and resources provided by the Navajo Nation government, and we want to avoid any disruption of those services – that was our primary reason for signing and approving the continuing resolution," Lizer said in the press release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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Delegate Raymond Smith Jr., left, is pictured in this Feb. 11, 2019 file photo during a special session of the Navajo Nation Council in Window Rock, Arizona.