Navajo Nation Council meeting in special session on fiscal year 2016 budget

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo lawmakers could decide Tuesday in a special session whether to approve a comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2016.

Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd is sponsoring the emergency legislation that calls for approving a $620.3 million spending package.

The proposed budget includes $172.6 million in tribal revenue and $447.7 million in federal, state and private funding.

It is divided among the three branches with the executive branch receiving $556.9 million, the legislative branch receiving $16.4 million and the judicial branch receiving $15.3 million.

The bill includes provisions waiving tribal law that requires development of a capital budget and adoption of the comprehensive budget 20 days before the tribe's fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Shepherd's legislation is the only bill listed on the proposed agenda.

In a telephone interview Monday, Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates said the special session was called because the council did not pass the comprehensive budget during the budget session the week of Sept. 8. In addition, the council did not pass a separate bill that called for a continuing resolution, Bates said.

Both bills failed to get the 16 or more votes needed to pass.

If the council approves the comprehensive budget during today's special session, it will be submitted to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye for review, Bates said.

After it is submitted to Begaye's office, the president has 10 days to sign it, veto it or use his line-item veto authority.

The special session is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. in the council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.