But thumbs down PSS funding amendment
The House of Representatives passed a $233.2-million spending measure for fiscal year 2020 in yesterday’s session on Capital Hill but thumbed down two amendments that could have given CNMI education additional funding.
After almost three hours, the House voted, 17-2, to pass the measure; minority leader Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Tina Sablan (Ind-Saipan) voted no to the measure, House Bill 21-64.
It now goes to the Senate for action.
Minus $84.3 million in Settlement Fund obligations next fiscal year, that leaves $148.8 million available for appropriation for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, 2019.
Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) introduced the bill.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which Blanco chairs, conducted two days of marathon meetings last week in order to place the bill in yesterday’s calendar.
Propst proposed adding a subsection that would have cut the salaries of Cabinet members, special assistants, and directors by 15 percent, with the amount diverted to the PSS personnel account.
Propst, the minority leader, appealed to the lawmakers to go beyond party lines and think of giving more funds to the CNMI State Public School System and the Northern Marianas College. Despite this, the proposed amendment was defeated, 12-7.
Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (R-Saipan) was the sole majority lawmaker who joined the six minority lawmakers in voting yes to the amendment.
A proposed amendment by Rep. Donald Manglona (Ind-Rota) to cut $50,000 from the Senate and House leadership accounts was defeated, 13-6. It would have increased PSS’ budget from $37.38 million to $37.48 million and would have benefited the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., NMC, the NMC board, the Marianas Visitors Authority, PSS, and the Board of Education.