CNMI Legislature Finally Passes Budget; Shutdown Will Be Lifted If Fitial Signs It

251

Guam – The more than week long CNMI government shutdown is a step closer to being lifted after the Legislature late last night finally passed the $132 million fiscal year 2011 budget bill.

The appropriations measure is now with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and if signs he signs it during the weekend, the over 1,000 non-essential employees, who were not able to report to work since Oct. 1 because of a partial government shutdown, will be back to work by Tuesday. Monday is a holiday.

Read the CNMI Budget Bill that Awaits Governor Fitial’s Signature

At shortly after 11pm last night, the House accepted the Senate’s amendments to the fifth—and as it turned out to be—the final fiscal year 2011 budget bill on an 18-0 vote.

The Senate’s amendments to the bill restrict the governor’s hiring and fund reprogramming power, but gave in to the House’s 16-hour work cut and let go of its proposed 12-hour cut per pay period.

The weeks of impasse ended when the Senate, on an 8-0 vote, accepted the House’s 16-hour work cuts per pay period around 10pm Friday.

The House and Senate earlier in the week compromised on 13 unpaid holidays, a leadership account of $138,000 apiece for the House and Senate, lawmaker’s annual discretionary allowance of $85,000 each, as well as funding for the Northern Marianas College and the Public School System.