Agencies’ budget requests at $170M; Inos’ plan only $123.4M

Governor prepares 2014 supplemental budget that could now reach $10M

Gov. Eloy S. Inos is once again faced with the daunting task of shrinking by up to $170 million the budget requests of government agencies to fit his $123.4 million fiscal year 2015 spending plan, barely three weeks to go before his April 1 deadline to submit a budget package to the Legislature. The governor is also preparing his proposed fiscal year 2014 supplemental budget that could now reach $10 million, up from previous estimates of $8 million to $9 million.
“The task now is either to lower or bring up the resources. But we have to be realistic,” Inos said in an interview yesterday, shortly after his first Cabinet meeting since returning from Washington, D.C.

He said departments and agencies submitted budget requests totaling $160 million to $170 million.

“We know that the request from agencies have exceeded estimated resources but that is the task. We know that we are not going to submit a budget that exceeds resources. So that is the task of the budget process—reconcile those two [resources and requested budget],” Inos added.

Yesterday, agencies and departments started meeting with the Office of Management and Budget on their submitted spending plan, the deadline for which was on Feb. 28.

The governor made it clear that there won’t be work hour cuts in fiscal year 2015, which is from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015.

While tourism arrivals have been improving, the additional resources don’t match with the growing government obligations including annual payment to a retirement settlement trust fund, increased health insurance premium, and restoration of retirees’ 25 percent pension cut.

Inos said the proposed $123.4 million budget for fiscal year 2015 still does not include revenue from a Saipan casino bill, because it’s not signed yet, if at all. He added that the government has yet to realize income from video lottery and electronic gaming.

Supplemental budget

But the governor expects to submit soon a proposed fiscal year 2014 supplemental budget to the Legislature, prior to his submission of a 2015 budget.

While he earlier estimated that the supplemental budget would be between $8 million and $9 million, the number could be closer to $10 million now.

The supplemental budget, he said, includes proceeds from the sale of the Mariana House in Washington, D.C. to a real estate firm for over $900,000. The property used to be the official residence of the CNMI’s resident representative to the nation’s capital until 2009. The CNMI bought the property for $250,000 to $300,000.

The proposed supplemental budget would include $5 million for the annual minimum guaranteed payment to the retirement settlement trust fund, the government health and life insurance plan’s premium payment, and possibly “$200,000 to $300,000” to refund members of the Commonwealth Government Employees Credit Union.

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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