Guam – A failed bill to establish a casino on Saipan is thought to be at the root of the political stalemate up in the CNMI which has forced a partial shutdown of Government services there.
PNC’s Saipan Correspondent Mark Rabago reports that “there are some revenue generating proposals that the House wants the Senate to approve and they would only come to the table and make compromise to the budget once those revenue-generating ideas are accepted.”
More than 14-hundred public employees are on forced leave and most Government offices are shuttered because the legislature failed to pass a balanced budget by Thursday night’s deadline.
The House and the Senate continue to disagree on a number of issues on their versions of a 132 million US dollar appropriations bill, the most contentious of which is the number of work hour cuts for public servants.
CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial signed an Executive Order Thursday declaring a State of Emergency, barring the government from drawing funds from the general fund, with the exception of certain essential services.
He took that action after the 17th Legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget by the September 30th deadline.
It’s the first time in Commonwealth history that the Government has shut down.
The Emergency Declaration expires in 31 days unless extended. Exempted from the shutdown are civil servants in the fields of public safety, health care, education, and welfare.