CNMI Governor Releases $145.8 Million Budget Proposal

admin's picture

8.55% increase over current year to be covered by increase revenues

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 3, 3015) – Governor Eloy S. Inos on Wednesday evening submitted his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal to the Legislature that amounts to $145.8 million, an 8.55 percent increase from the government’s current spending level of $134 million.

[PIR editor’s note: An earlier article from the Saipan Tribune alleged that Inos would submit a budget of $134 million, the same as the current fiscal year.]

The deadline for the submission of the budget was April 1 and it was transmitted to the Legislature at 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday.

A new budget has to be enacted on or before Oct. 1, 2015 — the first day of FY 2016; otherwise, there will be a partial government shutdown.

In his transmittal letter to the Legislature, Inos said after adjusting for debt service appropriations, earmarked funds and other legal obligations, the net resources available for general appropriation amount to $145,820,375.

"This represents an increase of $11,490,000 or 8.55 percent over the previous fiscal year. Tourism continues to grow and the commonwealth has realized significant increased tax collections in this industry."

The governor added, "The Marianas Visitors Authority projects continued upward growth in tourism throughout FY 2016, but that growth will be limited to current capacity."

He said hotel rooms and airline seats are at capacity and construction of the initial phase of the Saipan casino investor’s integrated resort should begin in FY 2015 and be completed in FY 2016.

Inos is proposing an increase of funding allocation for the Settlement Trust by $3 million; and the allotment of 25 percent of general fund revenues to the Public School System as required by a recently ratified constitutional amendment.

His budget likewise includes $3.5 million in funding for active retirees’ group health and life insurance, and the defined benefit contribution of 37.39 percent for the remaining active members employed within their respective departments.

The budget will fund utilities based on the FY 2015 level, establish a separate administrative account for medical referral administration, and "contribute" $2 million to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. which, when it was still the Department of Public Health, used to get $39 million a year from the CNMI government.

Inos said his budget proposal will "roll over the Labor Division into the Employment Services Division" while funding Workmen’s Compensation at ½ of 1 percent for central government employees based on the FY 2015 budget, and allocating 100 percent of the contract worker fees to the Department of Labor.

Under the proposed budget, the Settlement Fund will get $30 million; the group health and life insurance, $3.5 million; contributions for the defined benefit plan members within the central government, $578,333; the newly created fire department, $3.3 million; medical referrals, $1.8 million; PSS, $36.4 million; Northern Marianas College, $4.4 million; the Department of Labor, $1.7 million; and utilities, $12.7 million.

There was no mention of any funding for the government’s over $27 million unpaid utility bills.

Inos said he appropriated $2 million for CHCC to help defray the cost of clinical services for the indigent population and medical care for the inmates of the Department of Corrections.

The now independent Office of the Attorney General gets an increase of $396,000 to accommodate three critical positions.

The municipalities of Tinian and Rota will receive equal allocations for FY 2016. Utilities for both municipalities will remain at $465,000 each under the assumption that both will implement measures to save energy.

The allocation to Rota increased by $416,000 to fund critical positions at the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

The allocation to Tinian increased to fund a deputy commissioner for the fire department.

Rep. Antonio Sablan, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, in an interview on Thursday, said the proposed budget seemed reasonable and realistic.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment