The Council of the Cherokee Nation unanimously approved a $1.16 billion comprehensive tribal budget for fiscal year 2020 Monday night, the largest in tribal history.
Included in the budget is funding for Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.’s employee pay raise plan, which will increase the tribe’s minimum wage to $11 per hour. Also included is $26.2 million for the construction or expansion of Cherokee Nation Child Development Center facilities; a $16.3 million increase to the tribe’s contract health budget; and an increase of more than $100,000 in funding for community-based programs throughout the Cherokee Nation.
“I want to commend the Council of the Cherokee Nation for thoroughly reviewing the fiscal year 2020 budget and for working with Chief Hoskin’s office on its final approval,” said Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, who chairs the Executive and Finance Committee. “It’s clear by looking at this budget – the largest in our tribe’s history – that we are committed to education, health care, language, culture and the many other tribal services that better the lives of Cherokees.”
The tribe’s new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
“I appreciate the Council of the Cherokee Nation for working so diligently to approve the fiscal year 2020 budget, which I believe is reflective of core Cherokee values,” said Chief Hoskin. “This budget represents a strong investment in our citizens, our communities, and our talented workforce. The time and energy that has been devoted to approving the largest budget in our Nation’s history, including the largest employee pay raise in our history, is evidence that the Council and our staff is fully committed to being good stewards of Cherokee Nation resources.”
In other business, the Council of the Cherokee Nation also took the following actions:
• Elected Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor as secretary of the Council.
• Confirmed the appointment of Lynna Carson as a board member of Cherokee Nation Businesses.
• Confirmed the appointment of Linda O’Leary as a member of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.
• Passed a resolution opposing a change to federal regulations that would allow non-Natives to possess and use eagle feathers for religious purposes.
• Approved a resolution authorizing Cherokee Nation to become a member of the National Congress of American Indians.
The next Council of the Cherokee Nation meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah.