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Sunday, April 20, 2014

$3.264M in poker fees for SHEFA, other Saipan programs now law

Gov. Eloy S. Inos urged the Legislature to give utmost priority to programs needing most funding and are most beneficial to the community, as he signed into local law a measure appropriating $3.264 million in poker license fees to fund the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance and other Saipan precinct projects in fiscal year 2014.

House Local Bill 18-26, Substitute 1, Draft 1 is now Saipan Local Law 18-7.

“While I approve this measure, there is an important distinction that must be made. 10 CMC 3822 requires that SHEFA program be the first priority from funds collected from the local poker fees for the Third Senatorial District. The measure before me requires all programs listed to be proportionately disbursed without any priority given to SHEFA. As such, all programs shall be disbursed proportionately,” the governor told the Legislature.

The governor hopes that enough funds will be generated to accommodate all the items listed for appropriation.

“Still, I urge the Legislature to carefully review the programs and projects in the future to ensure the activities needing the most funding and that are most beneficial to the community as a whole are given priority,” he said in his Thursday transmittal message to Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).

Saipan lawmakers passed the bill on Nov. 27. It was authored by Reps. Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan) and John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan).

Under the newly signed local law, $3 million of the total $3.264 million is set aside for SHEFA.

The remaining $264,000 is allocated as follows: $100,000 for SHEFA operations; $25,000 for the Saipan Little League; $8,000 for the Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival; $5,000 for the Agricultural Fair; $10,000 for the Saipan Fishing Derby; and $8,000 for Liberation Day activities.

Others on the list are $25,000 for the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation operational funds; $34,000 for the repair, maintenance and rental equipment for the Saipan Mayor’s Office; $30,000 for the Carolinian Affairs Office for the development of an island cultural village; and $19,000 for the construction and paving of the Gillette Gymnasium Road, which will have matching funds from a private company doing business in the area.

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