WINDOW ROCK-Today, President Russell Begaye delivered the State of the Navajo Nation Address during the opening fall session of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council.
President Begaye led his speech by honoring the service of Honorable Delegate Steven Begay whose passing was memorialized with a proclamation to fly the flags at half-staff for the entire week of the fall session.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Delegate Begay’s family, friends and colleagues on the Council during this difficult time,” President Begaye said.
On Sept 21, President Begaye signed the fiscal year 2019 budget that appropriated upwards of $172 million to continue government operations for the next 12 months. Although the budget for FY2019 is higher than last year’s, President Begaye warned that 2020 will pose challenges in light of declining revenues from the Navajo Generating Station in Page.
“Despite our efforts to find a new owner, the decommissioning of Navajo Generating Station will continue,” President Begaye said. “I’ll continue to support efforts to keep NGS in operation. However, the uncertainty of NGS has prompted my administration to tighten the budget while seeking ways to diversify our economy.”
The president’s address also touched on the impacts that Proposition 127 will have on the Navajo economy. Although President Begaye said the Nation doesn’t oppose the goals of Prop 127, he feels there are better ways to achieve the objectives without impacting a Navajo revenue source.
“Prop 127 requires electric companies selling power in the state of Arizona to get half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030,” President Begaye said. “The Navajo Nation is already producing renewable energy with the Kayenta Solar Facility and is working to double the facility’s capacity.”
As a nation, the Navajo people have power to influence results in both county and state elections. Navajo voting power was exemplified when the Nation fought and won to create fair voting districts in Utah’s San Juan County election for county commission and school board.
“I urge all the Navajo people to exercise your right to vote in November at the local, county, state and national level. The right to vote in American elections was not afforded to us by the treaty. It’s a right that we continue to fight for,” President Begaye said. “Yet, when we show up at the polls we are a powerful swing vote.”
President Begaye also called upon the federal government to hold themselves accountable for fairly compensating farmers and ranchers who were negatively impacted by the Gold King Mine spill of 2015.
The Navajo Nation and Native American tribes across the country face an assault on their sovereignty in the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed policy to implement work requirements on Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
“This policy tries to redefine us a racial group and not a unique, sovereign nation,” he said. “We will continue to challenge this policy until it’s reversed.”
To read the State of the Navajo Nation Address in its entirety please click on the following link.