Next Legislature will discuss SHEFA funding issue

CNMI Commission on Elections administration officer Kayla Igitol, left, checks the documents submitted by Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) before accepting the latter’s certificate of candidacy for his re-election bid last Wednesday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multipurpose Center in Susupe. (Jon Perez)

CNMI Commission on Elections administration officer Kayla Igitol, left, checks the documents submitted by Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) before accepting the latter’s certificate of candidacy for his re-election bid last Wednesday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multipurpose Center in Susupe. (Jon Perez)

Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) believes the issue surrounding alternative funding sources for the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance will be discussed when the 20th Legislature convenes next year. Only a couple of sessions are left before the campaign season begins for the November general elections.

Tebuteb, who is running for re-election as an independent for one of the six seats in Precinct 3, said even though he is a member of the minority in the 19th Legislature their group fully supports ways how to help programs like SHEFA.

“What the minority has presented is always in line with the programs of our government,” said Tebuteb after filing his certificate of candidacy yesterday at the Commonwealth Election Commission at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multipurpose Center.

Tebuteb added that SHEFA is close to his heart being a former educator at the CNMI Public School System. “We are making sure, like the rest of my colleagues at the House, that we maintain those good programs like SHEFA.”

“Although, we’re in the minority, we respect each other’s position on issues. But for SHEFA, whatever it takes we must find a solution. I think that it is important that we look at this at a whole,” said Tebuteb.

He said that another possible source of funding is from the money collected from the CW-1 funds. “Both sides must work together, whether you are in the majority or minority, we must understand why we need to support and find a solution to help continue this program.”

“There are a number of funding sources we can and must explore so we can help the scholarship office. One of these is the CW-1 funds,” said Tebuteb.

Rep. Francis Taimanao (Ind-Saipan) introduced House Local Bill 19-66, which hopes to amend a provision on Saipan Local Law 18-05 that mandates poker game room owners to relocated to the Adult Gaming Zone’s geographical location in October next year.

SHEFA’s funds would be affected if ever poker arcade operators would either reduce their machines or shut down their businesses since license fees of this industry funds the office.

Around $3.2 million to $3.4 million goes to SHEFA from the more than $8 million collected by the CNMI government from poker fees. The amount is then distributed to the hundreds of Saipan students who applied and were approved by the program.

As of last week, there have already been 807 applicants, but not yet included are students who sent their application by snail mail on or before the July 1 deadline. Out of the 807 applicants, 398 are new, while 376 are ongoing recipients another 33 are returning or did not applied for one year.

SHEFA had already approved $286,000 for 154 applicants after the request was signed by SHEFA chair Oscar M. Babauta, which will then be forwarded to the Department of Finance for processing.

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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