TAHLEQUAH – In unanimous votes, Cherokee Nation lawmakers on Sept. 13 approved the fiscal year 2022 capital and operating budgets totaling a record $3.4 billion.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told the Tribal Council that FY 2022’s overall budget will “help us make significant strides on those areas from health care to housing to language preservation to infrastructure, just to name some of the priority areas that I know that you all have and my administration does, as well.”
The budgets earmark $2.98 billion for operations and $418.52 million for capital. After more than three hours of budget discussions on Sept. 7, the Tribal Council’s Executive & Finance Committee supported the proposals and pushed them forward for a full Council vote. The budgets allocate funding for the CN’s 24 departments to address spending for health care, housing, roads, jobs, education and other tribal services.
“Most of our funding is coming from federal agencies,” Treasurer Janees Taylor told councilors at the time. “The highest funding is coming from the Department of Treasury due mainly to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. They constitute 39.3% of federal funding received. (Indian Health Service) not surprisingly, is the next highest with 26.1%.”
From the federal rescue act, the tribe anticipates an additional $1.1 billion for COVID relief and economic recovery. The budget anticipates a $49.6 million increase in tribal revenue “based on projected dividends, sales and tobacco tax revenues,” Taylor said.
At $1.5 billion, last year’s comprehensive budget was also the tribe’s largest to date, cushioned by federal COVID relief funds. The initial budget has grown over the course of the year to $3.36 billion-plus through additional federal funding, grants and other resources.
The 2020 budget was a record $1.2 billion, which included $500 million in CARES Act funding.
Councilors also passed two measures related to the tribe’s ongoing effort to amend and create laws in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling.
The first act amends the definition of “drug paraphernalia” within CN code to exclude syringes or needles “issued by a harm reduction program or medical provider for infection control or infection prevention.” The second act establishes the CN Vessel and Motor Registration Act.
In other business, Mike Shambaugh was elected as the new Tribal Council speaker. Victoria Vazquez was voted in as deputy speaker and Dora Patzkowski as secretary.
Dewayne Marshall was reconfirmed as a member of the Sequoyah High School Board of Education. Stuart Grayson was confirmed as a member of the Cherokee Nation Foundation.
J. Blake Fletcher was reappointed, and Marilyn Vann appointed, as commissioners on the CN Environmental Protection Commission.
Frank Delozier was appointed to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.