Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) is looking to increase funding for the Judiciary and local law enforcement once they begin the deliberation process for the CNMI government’s budget for fiscal year 2018.
Demapan, who is the House Ways and Means committee chair, said he agrees with Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) in addressing the Judiciary’s funding needs. Hofschneider is the Senate Fiscal Affairs committee head.
“We agree on most of the priorities of this year’s budget and that is to really ensure the critical areas. We also both agree on the Judiciary’s funding needs, since for so many years the judiciary was quite underfunded,” said Demapan.
“I’m happy that I’m working with Sen. [Hofschneider] to look at the critical areas throughout the government, [especially] the Judiciary that needs to be addressed. We’re hoping we could increase the Judiciary’s fund due to the increase in our revenues.”
He added that some of the Judiciary’s operational needs have also been overlooked the past several years.
Law enforcement is another agency that he wanted to focus on as the CNMI government, as much as possible, supports their programs and proper funding.
“[We] anticipate the increase in development and the increase in visitors. Of course we would also expect the need for more law enforcers. It would increase the need for more personnel and an increase in their operational needs,” said Demapan.
“Law enforcement is one of the critical areas that we would like to also take a look at and focus on. So we could ensure that we just don’t talk about increasing support for our local law enforcement but make sure that we make it happen.”
Hofschneider, in an earlier interview with the Saipan Tribune, said he also wanted to focus on the needs of the Judiciary—the CNMI Superior Court, Supreme Court, Drug Court, Law Revision Commission, and the Judiciary Administrative Office.
The operation expenses of the Drug Court is expected to increase since they would require hiring additional personnel. The Drug Court was created through Public Law 19-14 that was signed by then acting governor Ralph DLG Torres on Oct. 28, 2015.
The health and life insurance of government employees, the settlement and judgments, and the government’s other obligations are the other critical areas that both committees need to address.
They are also united in saying that the legislators’ salary hike is the least of their priorities.