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Government workers now earning 26 percent less

By Joanna McCarthy MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 13, 2010) - Northern Marianas governor Benigno Fitial has asked the United States for more funding for food stamps to help government workers struggling under the new austerity measures.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) governor signed the budget bill into law on Sunday, bringing to an end a ten day partial government shutdown.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan and the Governor have separately asked for more food stamp funding for government workers who will now be earning 26 percent less.

Union leader Rabby Syed says the workers are doing it tough.

"Some government employees have like bank loans or like they're having a problem paying bills and other payments."

Republican lawmaker Trenton Connor says everyone in the islands is struggling. We all have to find a way to make ends meet.

As compensation, the governor declared October 11 a paid public holiday.

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