By a vote of 18-0, the House of Representatives passed yesterday afternoon a proposed constitutional amendment to increase the annual guaranteed CNMI government funding for the Public School System from the current 15 percent to 25 percent. The House passage comes less than a month before the deadline for any legislative initiative to be passed by the Legislature for placement on the November 4 ballot.
House Legislative Initiative 18-12, authored by House Education Committee chair Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), now goes to the Senate for action.
The Senate is expected to also pass the initiative on Thursday.
“I’m very thankful, very glad that it went through. I’m hoping that the Senate will also pass it so that it will go to the people for a vote,” Benavente said, noting that the Aug. 6 deadline to pass the legislative initiative is drawing near.
Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan, along with Kagman High School principal Leila Staffler, testified before the House session yesterday afternoon, urging members to pass HLI 18-12 so that more funds will go toward educating public school children.
HLI 18-12 seeks to amend Article 15, Section 1(e) of the CNMI Constitution to increase PSS’ guaranteed funding from 15 percent of the government’s annual appropriation to 25 percent.
The 15 percent guaranteed funding for PSS was established in 1985. Proponents of the initiative said the level of funding public education in other U.S. jurisdictions is closer to 25 percent of their annual budget.