Dear Speaker BJ Attao: Our Commonwealth is in crisis. Public services and employees are reeling from erratic, possibly illegal, and disproportionate austerity measures. The administration has failed to provide this body, and the people we represent, with a full and detailed accounting of our current fiscal state and how we got here. We still have no idea how much money we have to operate this government for the rest of the fiscal year. We do not know how much longer austerity measures will continue, or if they might worsen. And this administration has not delivered any credible plan to move us forward.
The people of the Marianas are crying out for legislative oversight. They want answers. They want the truth. We cannot continue to ignore them. Regardless of party affiliation, as legislators we have a duty to investigate allegations of executive abuses and mismanagement, and take action to ensure transparency and accountability.
For weeks, the members of the minority have called for oversight. The urgency has not subsided, and is at this point even greater than before. We now propose to establish a bipartisan Special Investigative Committee to conduct a thorough inquiry into the present fiscal crisis: to hold hearings and interview witnesses under oath, to review and analyze records and decisions made, and report back to this body on their findings and recommended actions.
The minority members are also firmly opposed to at least two measures that have been suggested thus far by the administration. We oppose the issuance of pension obligation bonds. We do not get out of debt by borrowing more. We also oppose raising taxes on fuel. Fuel is a basic and necessary commodity, and is already extremely expensive on our islands.
But we do stand ready to work with our colleagues in the Legislature and with the administration to support reasonable and equitable measures to resolve the present crisis. Today we are proposing to implement a gambling revenue tax of 10 percent in the Third Senatorial District, where the vast majority of the Commonwealth’s gaming activity occurs. Additionally, we are working on legislation to restrict the ability of any taxpayer to claim tax credits for gambling loans, and to clarify in the law that jackpot taxes apply to winnings in all gaming establishments, with no exceptions.
We also support a modest increase in excise taxes, as some members in the majority have suggested—provided that exceptions are made for food, medicine, and other essential goods.
Rep. Edwin Propst
Rep. Christina Sablan
Rep. Edmund Villagomez
Rep. Sheila Babauta
Rep. Richard Lizama
Rep. Donald Manglona
House of Representatives
21st Legislature, Capital Hill