$11.5M spending bill now law

Santos: It’s not much different from fiscal year appropriations

Acting governor Arnold I. Palacios recently enacted a spending bill that doles out a total of $11.5 million throughout the government, despite concerns raised by some House of Representatives members that the bill relates to matters that are supposed to be the purview of local legislative delegations.

House Bill 21-78, HS1, SS1 is now Public Law 21-10.

In a statement, Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) noted that she understood the sentiments of those who expressed reservations at the House over the passage of the Senate version of H.B. 21-78.

“…It is not much different from fiscal year appropriations,” she said in a statement to Saipan Tribune, acknowledging the reservations that Rep. Donald Manglona’s (Ind-Rota) had stated at the House session about the bill. One of those concerns was the appropriated amount of $100,000 for the Rota Gaming Casino Commission operations, which Manglona believed should be used to pay vendors.

“When the mayor of Rota recently appointed two members to the Rota Gaming Casino Commission, my colleague had every opportunity to voice his objection to the mayor regarding these appointments,” Santos said. “He also had another opportunity to appeal to the Rota Municipal Council members for the rejection of the appointees and to justify his claim that the funds that will be used to fund the commission could be used to pay vendors or other critical municipal projects.”

“In addition, he also had numerous opportunities to discuss, with the mayor of Rota, the temporary suspension of any funds to the commission. The Rota Casino Act of 2007 was an initiative ratified by our people and the law established the commission member compensation but also stated that the amount may be readjusted by an approved regulation only with the concurrence of the Rota Municipal Council. To deviate from the law will create a bigger liability that our municipality cannot afford,” Santos added.

Manglona previously stated that the $100,000 allocated to the Rota Gaming Casino Commission could be used to fund emergency needs identified by the Rota mayor.

“There are several projects on Rota that needs funding, such as [the procurement] of tractors for farmers and the 20% [Federal Emergency Management Agency] matching for Typhoon Mangkhut, to name a few,” Manglona had said during House discussions on the bill.

In response, Santos said, “May I strongly suggest that my colleague request an audience with the commissioners to discuss their past, current, and future plans before passing judgment. We must work together to try and revitalize our island and help infuse new money for the sake of our people.”

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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