CNMI Shutdown in 4th Day As Budget Held Hostage to Casino Gambling Bill

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Guam – Blackmail allegations have surfaced on the ongoing budget impasse in the Legislature that had led to a partial shutdown of the CNMI government.

Senate floor leader Pete Reyes said every time the House of Representatives leadership discussed the proposed $132-million budget bill, the issue of Speaker Froilan Tenorio’s defeated casino bill is brought up.

Other senators, however, said the casino bill is a dead issue, and that Saipan voters had already twice rejected the operation of casinos on Saipan.

Reyes said for a lack of a better word, the Senate feels that the House leadership is blackmailing the Senate to reconsider the speaker’s casino bill so that the House majority would agree on the Senate’s proposed eight-hour work cuts per pay period.

Reyes’ allegations came as the CNMI government entered its fourth day of shutdown today. The Senate and House apparently had a gentleman’s agreement in place as early as Friday that adopted the latter’s eight-hour work hour cuts, but the administration of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial nixed the deal over the weekend.