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Begaye Vetoes Raise Proposal

Begaye Vetoes Raise Proposal
September 21
09:12 2018

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has gone on record supporting a wage increase for tribal employees, but apparently not all employees. Begaye vetoed a Navajo Council bill to place a referendum question on the November ballot that would have let voters decide if the president and vice president position should receive a salary increase. Begaye vetoed the legislative and returned it to the council without comment.

Supporters of the measure suggested the veto was Begaye’s response to not making it through the primary in his bid for re-election. In August Begaye said tribal employees needed a livable wage. Such a raise would encourage young Navajo to return to the reservation, he argues. The salary for the president and vice president are $55,000 and $45,000 respectively. The salaries have remained unchanged since the offices were created in 1989. Begaye said the salary wasn’t a consideration when he decided to run for president. The salary has no bearing on how good job the president does, he added. The Navajo Nation Council passed legislation during a special session earlier this month in support of our freedom on raising the salaries for the tribe’s president and vice president. The Commission on Navajo Government Development urged the referendum on raises back in July. The commission reported to council that the executive office positions are less than state officials that receive annual cost of living adjustments. Begaye critics said the referendum would have let the voters decided on the salary increases. But issues a veto, Begaye has denied the people a voice, they argue.

The council can still override the presidential veto. It would take a two thirds majority which would mean 16 votes among the 24 member council. The legislation passed earlier this month was approved by a 17-3 margin. If the council overrides the veto the referendum would appear on the ballot for the November 6 General Election. If voters approve the pay hike, they will then be able to select from three options: paying the president $85,000 and the vice president $70,000 or $95,000 for the president and $80,000 for the vice present; or the final option for $102,000 for the president and $87,000 for the vice president.

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