Escalade, $220 m. Bond, Permanent Trust Fund

Greeting Relatives/Frens,
It appears that the Navajo Nation Council are on a fast track to get to about $32 million out of the Permanent Trust Fund. The $32 m. is the interest earned from the PTF principal, which stands at about $1.4 billion. But under Navajo law, the PTF principal can only be touched through a referendum of the people.

The Council can spend the PTF interest only if they have an approved Five-Year Plan and that has not happened because the Council bickers over how the PTF interest will be used, specifically, how much each of their chapters/communities will receive.

Council Delegate Danny Simpson, who is a Budget & Finance Committee member, is sponsoring legislation for a Five-Year Plan. Her legislation is on the agenda of a special meeting of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, which is meeting today, 9-26-13, at 9 a.m. The usual time for the B&F Committee and other Council standing committees to meet is 10 a.m.

The Council has the final approval over the Five-Year Plan. The Council convenes its five-day Fall Session on Oct. 21, 2013.

Also on today’s B&F agenda is travel authorization for the B&F to tour the controversial Grand Canyon Escalade Project, which the Hopi Tribe is opposing because it would violate sacred sites.


Tomorrow, 9-27-13, the Council’s Naa’biki’yati’ Committee is meeting and Council Delegate Katherine Benally’s legislation for a $220 million bond for reservation-wide economic development projects is on the agenda. The bond plan involves using the Permanent Trust Fund as collateral.

Council Delegate Katherine Benally, who is also the Resources & Development Committee chairperson, is sponsoring the $220 m. Bond legislation

There are only two items on the Naabi agenda for tomorrow: the $220 m. bond and a “Navajo Nation Chapter Intrastructure Improvement Priority Projects for Fiscal Year 2013 thru 2018.”

Council Delegates Benally and Jonathan L. Hale, who is the Health, Education & Human Service Committee chairperson, are the sponsors of the legislation for the Chapter Infrastructure Projects, which is basically the tribal Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan.

Here is a tribal legislativve branch press release about the Five-Year CIP that was published July 3, 2013, which is when the RDC approved it and recommended it to the B&F Committee, Naabi & the Council.

Resources and Development Committee votes to approve
the funding of Chapter Infrastructure Improvement Priority Projects
WINDOW ROCK – The Resources and Development Committee considered Legislation No. 0118‐
13, which seeks to approve the Navajo Nation Chapters’ Infrastructure Improvement Priority
Projects for fiscal years 2013 through 2018.
Legislation No. 0118‐13 was previously tabled by the RDC on Mar. 30, to allow for the collection
of supporting chapter resolutions by the Navajo Nation Division of Community Development.
Legislation sponsor Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels), said the
legislation’s primary purpose is to use the interest from the Permanent Trust Fund to build
proposed infrastructure projects.
“The chapters have taken the time to thoroughly re‐assess their community needs and produce a
chapter resolution,” said Delegate Hale. “The legislation will create capital for our chapters.”
RDC chair Council Delegate Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) noted that 97
of the Nation’s 110 chapters submitted supporting resolutions, confirming their project proposals.
“The projects that were included in the original document are 2‐years‐old,” said Delegate Benally.
“The RDC asked for resolutions to ensure current chapter needs are being addressed.”
Although a majority of Chapters submitted supporting resolutions for their projects, Council
Delegate Leonard Tsosie (Baca/Prewitt, Casamero Lake, Counselor, Littlewater, Ojo Encino,
Pueblo Pintado, Torreon, Whitehorse Lake) was skeptical of the proposed funding amounts.
“Some proposals concern me, $50 million for one project is not feasible,” said Delegate Tsosie.
“We need to look at the true needs of the Nation, like the elder and youth sectors.”
Council Delegate Leonard H. Pete (Chinle) questioned if the proposals should require a funding
limit to ensure funds are maximized to their full potential.
“These proposals need a funding ceiling and solid prioritization process to maximize the funds,”
said Delegate Pete. “I don’t see much sense in adding the chapter resolutions to the legislation’s
Delegate Tsosie argued that the proposal listing neglected the true needs of the people, and
questioned the relevance of the chapter resolutions.
“The people tell me they want the roads graded, not proposals for a chapter house parking lot,”
said Delegate Tsosie. “When you only have 25 votes on a chapter resolution, and have a
population of over 1000, that’s not democracy.”
Speaking in support of the legislation, Council Delegate Roscoe Smith (Crystal, Fort Defiance, Red
Lake, Sawmill) said he was excited to witness the Nation’s investments return in the form of
capital development.
“Here is an opportunity for each chapter to build something tangible by utilizing the Permanent
Trust Fund interest,” said Delegate Smith.
Council Delegate George Apachito (Alamo, Ramah, Tohajiilee) stressed that recommendations
from each of the 24 Council Delegates to prioritize the proposals must be considered.
“We need to keep working on the prioritization process in order to be fair,” said Delegate
Apachito. “I am optimistic of the legislation’s potential, my chapters will be happy to see additions
to their communities.”
After a lengthy discussion, RDC members voted 2‐2, requiring RDC chair Delegate Benally to cast a
tie‐breaking vote.
“I will support the addition of the chapter resolutions and the final legislation when it goes to the
Council,” said Delegate Benally.
The RDC approved Legislation No. 0118‐13 with a vote of 3‐2.
The legislation now moves on to the Budget and Finance Committee and Naabik’íyáti’ Committee
before it goes to the Navajo Nation Council for final consideration.
# # #
For news on the latest legislative branch activities, please visit www.navajonationcouncil

The following is the Aug. 8, 2013, tribal legislative press release about the B&F approving the Five-Year CIP and recommending it to Naabi and the Council.

The Budget and Finance Committee approves the Navajo
Nation Chapter’s Infrastructure Improvement Priority Projects list
WINDOW ROCK – On Tuesday, the Budget and Finance Committee approved the Navajo Nation Chapter’s Infrastructure Improvement Priority Projects list for FY2013-2018. The Capital Improvement Project list consists of projects from most of the 110 chapters on the Navajo Nation.
“This legislation was introduced in April 2013 and resulted in work sessions with chapter officials discussing proposed capital projects in their areas,” said legislation sponsor Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels).
According to Delegate Hale, all chapters that requested a capital project to be added to the priority list had to submit chapter resolutions, including project proposals.
“At this point, we have the majority of chapters that have already submitted their chapter resolutions with the exception of 13 chapters,” said Delegate Hale.
Included in the presentation, Chief Justice Herb Yazzie explained the importance of the CIP priority list and spoke on behalf of the Judicial Branch in regards to the construction of a new Supreme Court building.
“About six years ago, we started on a dream to obtain a judicial complex to house the Supreme Court, court administration, peacemaking, and probation programs,” said Chief Justice Yazzie. “We are construction ready and ask that we be put at the top of the priority list.”
Currently, the list includes 105 projects from each of the Nation’s five agencies and the Navajo Nation Capital, according to the CIP report.
“How many of these projects are actually project-ready?” asked BFC member Council Delegate Nelson BeGaye (Lukachukai, Rock Point, Round Rock, Tsaile/Wheatfields, Tse Chi’zhi).
Delegate Hale responded, “The FY2014 priority list is project-ready and is awaiting funding to begin construction. Every year until FY2018, the list will be reevaluated to reflect project-ready sites only.”
The funding of the capital projects was a concern posed by BFC members.
“I do not see any language in this legislation that authorizes a bond [to finance these projects],” said BFC member Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley (Houck, Klagetoh, Nahata Dziil, Tse Si’ani, Wide Ruins). “There needs to be language or another legislation that addresses how the Nation will fund these developments.”
BFC member Council Delegate Danny Simpson (Becenti, Crownpoint, Huerfano, Lake Valley, Nageezi, Nahodishgish, Tse’ii’ahi, Whiterock) stated, “The stock market has been good to us and we should use the Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund to finance these projects and get them completed as soon as possible.”
Delegate Hale explained that the capital projects were originally to be funded by the interest of the Navajo Nation’s Permanent Trust Fund, but the goal now is to approve the priority listing first. He also noted that creating a concurrent legislation for funding the projects would cause confusion, but will be initiated after the priority listing is finalized.
“If the CIP list is not approved soon, it will only cause further delay. If we opt to finance, we will lose money on interest rates because the money will end up sitting there and interest will add up,” said Delegate BeGaye.
At the end of the discussion, BFC voted 3-0 to approve Legislation No. 0118-13 and will move on to the Naabik’iyátí’ Committee for consideration.
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