Published November 9, 2015
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA – Facing tremendous questions and criticism, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye vetoed legislation today authorizing a $20 million dollar unsecured tax-exempt loan to acquire new aircraft for the Navajo Nation.
The legislation was for the purchase of a new aircraft, equipment necessary to maintain the new aircraft as well as related financial and legal costs.
The Navajo Nation currently owns two King Air 200 planes that are over 30 years old a King Air 90 that is 20 years old. Tribal officials are concerned about the safety of the three planes that have been overhauled three times, which is the limit that planes can be overhauled.
Prior to receiving this legislation, the Executive Office wrote a memo expressing our concerns with the legislation, President Begaye said. “Council was aware we had critical concerns and if not addressed then we were not going to support this legislation.”
“As leaders of the Navajo Nation, we must be prudent and fiscally responsible to our People and for our Government,” said President Begaye.
In a memorandum dated Nov. 9, 2015, President Begaye outlined four areas of concern to support his decision to veto the legislation. His two prime concerns were lack of justification and the source of funds to repay the loan.
First, the legislation does not include sufficient justification for the $20M dollar loan such as a comprehensive feasibility study. Without justification, the Begaye-Nez administration will not “support efforts blindfolded.”
Second, the legislation fails to identify the source of funds and collateral that will be used to pay for this loan. President Begaye said he has requested this information from the Office of the Controller but as of today’s date, the source of funds has yet to be identified.