The news gets more and more distressing. The latest was today's story that the House cut MVA's budget because, it said, MVA could make up the shortfall with the new $15 tourism and environmental fee. But wasn't that fee devised because there hadn't been enough money for MVA in the budget in the first place?
Then there's Saipan Southern High School's dilemma-it still lacks $35,000 for its trip to London. Has the administration or the Legislature or MVA provided any support? The band's presence in London, England is a huge publicity opportunity for the CNMI. Shouldn't the CNMI government help make sure the band gets there? And what about CNMI-labeled attire or giveaways? Here's a prime opportunity to advertise the CNMI worldwide. Assuming the CNMI is providing support, why is there no information about what that support consists of? And if it's not, why isn't it?
Then there's Medicaid. Rather than trying to set priorities as to which Medicaid vendor gets paid first or how much-a slippery slope if there ever was one-why not pay each Medicaid provider the same percentage of his/her bill? Isn't that more fair? Then nobody can complain.
And the rush to adopt Social Security-why has there been no information on just how that will all work? Who gets in? Will it be mandatory? How much will it cost employees? What will they get for their money? On what terms? What about the predictions that Social Security itself is in trouble-and will run out of funds in 10 to 20 years? Is the CNMI merely going from the frying pan into the fire as far as a retirement program is concerned? And where will that leave the retirees?
The AG's office-where experienced attorneys' contracts are being allowed to lapse and new hires being taken on fresh out of law school. The coconut wireless has it that CUC's attorney was let go; pitting a greenhorn against the U.S. EPA is folly indeed! Also said to have been let go, among others, is an attorney who brought in over $250,000 in collections. What kind of wisdom is that?
The House' servile acceptance, unchanged, of the governor's executive order to take over the Retirement Fund, rather than working with the Senate to protect the Fund's trust funds, keep the Fund operational. Despite the disdain for attorneys, perhaps here is an occasion where no other remedy will work, and the CRA should go ahead and hire one to file a TRO?
The promises of restored full work hours is not so much distressing as it is deceptive. Is it real? Where is the funding coming from? Shouldn't it be going to CHC? CUC? The Retirement Fund?
Where does solution lie? It lies with the voter. The issue is whether we can afford to wait until November, and if not, what to do in the meantime.
Ruth L. Tighe