THANKS TO BIDEN’S AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
With President Joseph R. Biden’s signing of the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan that will give the CNMI a sizable chuck of cash, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Friday he will make sure that those government employees who’ve been furloughed will go back to work.
In an interview at the Office of the Governor’s conference room, Torres said he wants the reduction-in-force issue addressed first and foremost and that employees that are right now on furlough should be put back to 80 hours.
Torres announced the implementation of a reduction-in-force last February due to the continued lack of tourists and a depressed economy. That meant 180 government employees who are on furloughs will be permanently terminated from their jobs.
When asked last Friday to comment on Biden’s signing of the relief bill, Torres said he congratulates the president and all those that have worked hard for the bill. “I know that we got a list of appropriations, so to speak,” Torres said, adding that he continues to work with the Department of Finance and the Office of Management and Budget on the government’s priorities and the restriction on spending those funds.
The governor said one thing is for sure, they are going to look at the deficit, all the billings of the CNMI, whether it is for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. or other billings, vendors, Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkut issues, and bonds, and other projects that need to move forward. He said they also want to make sure that retirees continue to receive 100% of their pensions.
“There’s a lot of work needs to be done,” said the governor, adding that he met with House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), and the Judicial Branch, and is also communicating with Attorney General Edward Manibusan on this rollout.
Torres said they will issue more details about the administration’s spending plan.
Torres and Palacios earlier stated that, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the CNMI will receive much-needed relief, most notably through the stimulus check payments, funding for government operations, and additional funding for unemployment assistance.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) earlier said those who remain laid off will continue to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, taxpayers will receive another economic impact payment, $1,400, and more dependent children and certain dependent adults will qualify for additional aid.