Tinian’s partial shutdown affecting 15 employees since Oct. 1 continues today, but Tinian officials are hoping that the $3.841-million municipal budget bill will be signed into law as early as today after it was officially transmitted to the governor’s office yesterday.
Sen. Frank Borja (Ind-Tinian), chairman of the four-member Tinian Legislative Delegation, said yesterday that he’s considering a separate bill that would provide back wages to furloughed employees as a result of the partial shutdown “that was not their doing.”
Borja said he got the idea of a retroactive pay measure from the U.S. Congress, which has yet to pass a budget to reopen federal offices that have been shut down since Oct. 1.
Tinian Municipal Council chair Antonio S.N. Borja separately said yesterday that the three-member council gave their concurrence Saturday afternoon on the local budget bill that the Tinian Legislative Delegation passed on Thursday.
Borja said he hand-delivered to Saipan on Sunday night the local budget that received the Council’s concurrence.
The Tinian budget bill’s transmittal letter from the speaker’s office was sent to the governor’s office yesterday afternoon.
“The partial shutdown continues until such time the governor signs the bill into law. I hope the governor will sign it into law immediately,” Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz said yesterday.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said the bill will undergo review.
“Once a review is completed, the governor will be able to determine what action will be taken on the bill,” he added.
Today is the sixth work day that 15 employees are still out of work temporarily over a lack of a new municipal budget by Oct. 1, the start of fiscal year 2014.
The furloughed employees derive their salaries from casino industry revenues on Tinian. Most government personnel on Tinian are funded by CNMI general fund, and they are not affected by the furloughs.
The municipal budget bill appropriates $3.841 million in projected revenues from Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino for the personnel and operations of the Tinian Gaming Control Commission, Tinian Municipal Treasury, and the Office of the Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan for fiscal year 2014.
Meanwhile, CNMI agencies are bracing for even worse impacts of the U.S. government shutdown if it is prolonged. If the federal shutdown goes beyond October, federally-funded health and welfare programs in the CNMI would have to be “prioritized.”
Some federal programs and facilities in the CNMI, including the American Memorial Park and the U.S. immigration court, remain closed as of yesterday because of the federal government shutdown.