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Legislature, Public Works, Board of Education among latecomers

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 1, 2012) – Eight Commonwealth of the Northen Marianas (CNMI) government agencies, including the Legislature, Public School System, and Northern Marianas College, failed to meet the Feb. 29 deadline to submit their fiscal year 2013 budget requests to the Office of Management and Budget.

At the same time, Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) said yesterday that three agencies-departments of Public Safety and Corrections and PSS-have so far exceeded their individual budget for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 based on their ongoing budget assessment meetings.

Acting press secretary Teresa Kim, counsel for the lieutenant governor, said the eight agencies that were not able to submit their 2013 budget proposal at 4:30pm yesterday were the Legislative Branch, Department of Public Works, Rota Municipal Council, Tinian Municipal Council, Northern Marianas Islands (NMI) Occupational Information Coordination Committee, PSS, and the CNMI Board of Education.

"Please take note that some departments/agencies may be in the process of submitting," Kim said.

Northern Marianas College (NMC) president Sharon Hart, after yesterday's meeting with the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee on 2012 and 2013 budget issues, told reporters that the college was working on its 2013 budget submission to the Executive Branch.

Virginia Villagomez, the governor's special assistant for management and budget, sent out a memo over a month ago asking agencies to meet the Feb. 29 deadline to submit their budgets.

Meeting the deadline, she said, will give the Office of Management and Budget enough time to evaluate the requests and meet with each agency during the week of March 12 through March 15.

Villagomez had said that the Fitial administration expects the 2013 budget to remain stagnant at the 2012 level of $102 million and still with the 16-hour cuts biweekly and unpaid holidays.

The governor has until April 1 to submit his 2013 budget request to the Legislature. Without a budget passed by Oct. 1, the government will have to shut down.

Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) said yesterday that the Legislature historically does not formally submit a budget to the Executive Branch.

"The Legislature's budget is pretty much straightforward. You just multiply the constitutionally mandated salary with 29 members of the Legislature, and then their office budget times 29. Usually, the administration follows the previous year's budget," he said.

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