House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) and Ways and Means Committee chair Ray Basa (Cov-Saipan) said yesterday that the House leadership will reject today a Senate-amended fiscal year 2013 budget bill and call for a bicameral conference committee to work on a “compromise” version, barely three weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline to pass a budget.
Basa also said the $114 million budget bill may not be the only major bill to be rejected today, but also the pension reform bill because of the Senate amendments to it.
“The Senate amendments to House Bill 17-315 affects the budget bill, making it not balanced anymore. It throws off the budget,” Basa said.
The Senate's amendments include requiring the government to continue to remit employer's contribution to the Defined Contribution Plan at a rate of 4 percent unless the employee ceases to make his contributions.
The governor's revised budget submission adding $10 million to the projected revenues available for appropriation does not include this additional 4 percent contribution to the DC plan.
“My recommendation is also to reject HB 17-315, unless the Senate agrees to remove this amendment. If we could convince the Senate to remove this, then we could focus on the budget bill. Because we would have a conference committee on the budget, HB 17-313, plus another conference committee on HB 17-315 or the budget bill is too much, with limited time we have,” Basa added.
The Senate-amended House budget bill includes increased funding for the Public School System and other agencies compared to those given by the House. Senators, for example, gave PSS what it asked for-$33 million for fiscal year 2013-compared to $28 million that the House gave. The Senate also boosted Medicaid reimbursement funds to more than $3 million, much more than the House's proposal of $1.4 million.
Unless a budget bill is passed by Sept. 30, the government will have to shut down.