Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed House Bill 20-187 HD2 into law yesterday, a legislation that he described as simple but addresses important departments in the Commonwealth.
The bill is now Public Law 20-68 or the Supplemental Budget Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which appropriates $20,884,522 from the Special Casino Gross Revenue Tax Account.
P.L. 20-68 appropriates $11,534,522 for the CNMI Settlement Fund, $3.7 million for the Public School System, $3.5 million for the CNMI retirees’ bonuses, $1 million each for the Northern Marianas College and the Typhoon Mangkhut recovery efforts, and $150,000 for the Marianas Political Status Commission.
Torres said they are making sure resources from supplemental funds are directed to the most critical need. “This is a simple bill but it will address important departments. You have supplemental funds that are cash and we’re going to put these resources to where it is most critically needed.”
“This is the result of the cooperation both from the House and Senate. Thank you, legislators, for expediting this important piece of legislation. This is what we talked about in making sure all issues are addressed. There’s still a long way ahead of us but we’re making sure our resources are spent wisely.”
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), the House Ways and Means Committee chair and author of P.L. 20-68, said the funds is a reflection of what the CNMI is getting from the new casino industry. “I’m seeing the revenue from this new industry to support critical programs within our community.”
“A big focus is on the investment of our future by supporting PSS and NMC. Our pledge for retirees that we will protect their pension and fulfill for the third straight year their bonus. Our retirees came before us to lay the groundwork for this government.”
Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) said P.L. 20-68 is the result of the combined efforts of the executive and legislative branches of the government. “It is a collaboration with the Governor’s Office and the Legislature.”
“The governor submitted the proposals and…what we discussed went into those proposals. We see what needs to be funded and the result exemplifies what working together could do.”
House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan) added that the supplemental budget is not the last as another appropriation is forthcoming. “We’re being blessed with additional funds to address the critical needs of our Commonwealth. This is not the last. Another appropriation is forthcoming.”