In Regional News, the CNMI Senate has adopted a Joint Resolution relative to increasing the Commonwealth’s retiree bonuses from $500 to $1,000.
PNC’s Don Sulat has more…
The CNMI Senate adopted Joint Resolution 22-09 yesterday, which is “approving the Governor’s request to create a new program and business unit for retiree bonuses and to reprogram $2.6 Million from within the executive branch for the payment of the retirees’ $1,000 bonuses.”
The adoption was passed with a unanimous vote from all 9 NMI senators but had 3 reservations. The 3 senators who had reservations were Independent Senators Paul Mangloña, and Teresita A. Santos, along with Democratic Senator Edith DeLeon Guerrero.
In a statement to PNC, Senator Deleon Guerrero said that her reservations on voting in favor of SJR 22-09 stemmed from previous legislation. She states the original Retiree Joint Resolution – SJR 22-05 was not acted on by the House. Rather, according to Deleon Guerrero, the NMI House chose to pass House Bill 22-91 HD1SS1, which was then passed by the Senate with amendments but then rejected by the House on February 23rd.
Essentially, Deleon Guerrero said quote, “the passage of SJR 22-09 took place which essentially, in my opinion, puts us back to the same situation as SJR 22-05, hence my reservation vote.”
The passing of the resolution came after NMI Finance Secretary – David DLG Atalig – gave further clarification in regard to how the $1,000 bonus will be funded.
A stress point that Atalig highlighted was that the increase can be appropriated within Governor Torres’s 25% capacity. PNC previously reported that House Bill 22-91 was rejected by the House due to the Senate’s amendments allowing for 100% reprogramming authority by Governor Torres.
Atalig also stressed, that there is no need for new appropriation or funding to make the retiree bonus increase happen.
SJR 22-09 States, “The governor and the Secretary of Finance plan to reprogram the total amount of $2.6 million from within the executive branch for the sole purpose of retiree bonuses and assured the legislature that programs within the executive branch will not be hindered in any was as these funds will be back-filled using ARP funds under the provisions of Government Loss Revenues which is subject to state law.”
And that if necessary the Governor and Lt. Governor’s discretionary accounts and funding sources under the Department of Finance will be reprogrammed for this purpose.