The House of Representatives has approved a measure to, in effect, place the Northern Marianas Trades Institute under the CNMI government to allow it to be funded by the government annually.
In a session last Jan. 31, 2018, House lawmakers unanimously passed Senate Bill 20-21 to convert NMTI from a private to a public institution, effectively allowing it to receive general fund allocations.
Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (R-Saipan), who authored the bill, expressed gratitude to the House for passing his bill, with hopes that the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres would support the measure.
Part of Quitugua’s bill prohibits construction workers from using the worker slots under the CW program, among many others. Similar language is contained in U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) S. 2325, which extends the CW program, the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program, up to 2029.
“Such action by the CNMI 20th Legislature assures that, with the passage of Sen. Murkowski’s bill, the CNMI will live up to its obligations in the training and employment of U.S. workers, not only for a short term but a long term solution,” Quitugua said.
In an interview, NMTI board chair John O. Gonzales said that one of the plans of the NMTI board is to secure an agreement with the CNMI government to “prioritize workforce development.”
“We felt one of the ways to do that was to work collaboratively with the Legislature and…make [NMTI] a public corporation,” he said.
According to NMTI president Agnes McPhetres, the passage of S.B. 20-21 is a “real plus for the Commonwealth” because, if enacted, NMTI would be the first technical institution in the CNMI.
“Every state and entities in the Pacific has a [separate institution for trades] because the mission, goal, and curriculum set up is completely different from academics,” she said.
NMTI is home to nearly 600 students.
Quitugua’s bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.