Over $24M in appropriations
A House of Representatives measure seeking to appropriate over $24 million from the casino-licensee gross revenue tax was amended at the Ways and Means Committee, effectively reducing the allocation for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
Last Dec. 13, 2017, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), committee chair and author of House Bill 20-147, introduced a bill that would appropriate $24 million from the CGRT to various government agencies and obligations, including the Public School System, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and numerous land compensation debts of the CNMI government.
In a Ways and Means Committee meeting last Dec. 18, 2017, Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) proposed to amend the measure by reducing the amount allocated to CHCC by $500,000 and appropriating it toward the land compensation debt.
CHCC was initially to be appropriated $3.25 million while $1 million was to be appropriated for land compensation judgments against the Commonwealth government. After the committee unanimously accepted the amendments, CHCC would be appropriated $2.75 million while $1.5 million is for land compensation judgments.
According to Sablan, who chairs the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, the SNILD Ways and Means Committee proposed an appropriation of $2.3 million for CHCC.
“I believe that we could get the $500,000 from [CHCC]. I ask for your indulgence to move the remaining balance toward [land compensation judgments],” he said before offering the amendment. The $500,000 goes toward the Manglona v CNMI judgment, which, according to cair Demapan, costs the NMI government $693 a day in interest.
“In an effort to lessen the financial impact, the additional $500,000 would bring that particular judgment down by $1 million,” he said. A total of $1 million goes to the Manglona v CNMI judgment. “We still owe another $4 million to that particular judgment after this. We hope to take care of that at the next round of supplemental revenue.”
Some $1.7 million was initially appropriated toward Rota and Tinian’s telecommunications infrastructure, but floor leader Rep. Glenn Maratita (R-Rota) proposed an amendment to direct the funding toward land compensation debts on Rota and the West San Jose Homestead Water Project on Tinian.
“They felt that those two are more pressing [matters] than the telecommunication infrastructure. They would like to pursue other funding opportunities in the future to accommodate the telecommunication infrastructure,” said Demapan.
H.B. 20-147, HS1 passed the committee and now heads to the House for review as a whole.