$12.386M supplemental budget now goes to governor

Senate also confirms 2 appointees to MVA board

Senators passed Friday afternoon a supplemental $12.386 million budget bill for fiscal year 2014, which now heads to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for action. The Senate also confirmed two of the governor’s appointees to the Marianas Visitors Authority’s board of directors.

Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Sen. Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) initially asked that any action on the supplemental budget bill be delayed until at least Tuesday over concerns about a $60,000 that the House took away from the employer’s share of government health and life insurance premium payment for 2014 and instead gave the amount to the Commonwealth Election Commission.

Taimanao wanted to call in the Department of Finance, among other agencies, to brief the Fiscal Affairs Committee on the impact of the $60,000 that the House gave to the election body. The $60,000 will help the commission with additional expenses related to initiatives that will be on the ballot or are potentially going to be on the ballot in the November elections.

Other senators told Taimanao that concerns about the $60,000 shouldn’t hold back passage of the $12.386 million supplemental budget bill.

Of the $12.386 million, $5 million will go toward the government’s minimum required payment into the retirement settlement trust fund for 2014 while over $7 million goes to the government’s payment of the employer share of health and life insurance premium.

House Vice Speaker Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) addressed senators during the session to clarify that the House approved giving $60,000 to the Election Commission because they knew that 50 percent of the proposed cigarette tax hike bill would go to the government’s share of the health and life insurance premium payment and that 50 percent would be a lot more than the diverted $60,000.

Senators later passed the supplemental budget measure or House Bill 18-192, House Draft 1 by a vote of 9-0 at 3:53pm on Friday.

Confirmation, resolutions
The Senate also confirmed by a vote of 9-0 each two of the governor’s appointees to the MVA board: Juan O. Barcinas representing Tinian, and Kwang Joong Kim representing business on Saipan. Kim is a re-appointee.

Senators also adopted three resolutions, including Senate Commemorative Resolution 18-20, honoring and commending World War II veteran Lt. Col. Raymond Russell Kelly for his exemplary services in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Air Forces for 28 years, especially for serving during the war mission at Tinian’s North Field.

Kelly was among the American and Japanese World War II veterans who were in the CNMI recently to take part in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battles of Saipan and Tinian.

The Senate also adopted Senate Resolution 18-28, congratulating Delta Air Lines on their 25th anniversary of flight service from Tokoya-Narita to Saipan, and to commend them for providing Saipan with “25 years of excellent service and outstanding customer care.”

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Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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