A bill amending the newly signed budget law to correct an $80 million oversight in the NMI Retirement Fund’s operational funding to pay for retirees’ pension in fiscal year 2014 is now headed to Gov. Eloy S. Inos.
The House of Representatives passed at 2:41pm yesterday a Senate-amended version of House Bill 18-124, House Draft 1.
The bill, authored by Ways and Means Committee chair Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), passed by a vote of 19-0. Rep. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan) was not in the chamber when the voting came.
Inos had urged the Legislature to pass a bill amending the budget law to ensure that the Fund is not adversely impacted by the oversight involving a missing $80 million in the Fund’s 2014 operations funds.
The Fund’s operational funding of $84.765 million in fiscal year 2014 is not part of the $123.4 million general fund revenues available for government operations, but its inclusion in the budget measure is for informational purposes only. But the Fund could not spend any mount without approval from the Legislature and the governor.
Sablan, in yesterday’s discussion of the bill, said the Senate amendment did not alter the number of personnel nor the funding level for Tinian. The Senate amendment transferred five Tinian firefighter positions from the mayor’s office to under the Division of Fire.
“Personally I have concern with the incorporation of the names of the personnel affected,” Sablan said, but at the same time he understands the need to immediately send the bill to the governor before the start of a new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The House also adopted at 3:12pm yesterday Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero’s (Ind-Saipan) resolution requesting the Public School System, Northern Marianas College, and Northern Marianas Trades Institute to develop vocational training programs that meet the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s technical employment needs.
Deleon Guerrero said the “technical worker crisis” is always one of the bases for the monthly extension of the state of emergency declaration for CUC.
He said CUC claims there are not enough U.S. citizens or U.S. resident technical specialists in the CNMI with experience in the type of engines that CUC uses. CUC, he added, claims that it has tried to hire diesel mechanics in the CNMI but has been unsuccessful in finding enough qualified candidates.
The freshman lawmaker said PSS, NMC, and NMTI are charged with the responsibility to develop vocational training programs.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives…that [PSS, NMC and NMTI] consult with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and develop vocational training programs that meet the corporation’s technical employment needs,” the resolution partly reads.