House bipartisan bill allots $1.3M for retiree bonuses

Posted on Jan 05 2022


Members of the CNMI House of Representatives sign a bipartisan legislation in the House chamber to fund bonuses for the CNMI retirees and propose local stimulus initiatives. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Rep. Donald Manglona (Ind-Saipan) has pre-filed a bipartisan bill to allocate $1.3 million in local funds as a bonus for government retirees from clearly identified sources, including provisions that were originally passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate but line-item vetoed by the governor.

“This bonus is not only a symbol of our respect and admiration for our retirees, it also serves as an example of how to honor the commitment of those who served our community as government employees by doing things the right way,” said Manglona, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

CNMI retirees were initially promised bonus payments from the Executive Branch when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced his plan for a Christmas bonus in a December 2021 media briefing. The Planning and Budgeting Act, Title 1, Section 7402 of the Commonwealth Code provides the governor 25% reprogramming authority. As the governor had not reported to the Legislature he reached or exceeded these limits, the amount of $1.3 million fell well within the scope of the governor’s reprogramming powers.

“The governor should not have promised the retirees a bonus without identifying the source of the funding. While he placed the blame on the House leadership for not acting on Senate Joint Resolution 22-05, we identified the specific business units and specific dollar amounts to fund the bonus for our retirees,” Manglona said. “Simply put, doing things the proper way takes longer. Our local funding levels are at the lowest they’ve been since the Trust Territory times and fiscal responsibility is especially crucial now more than ever.”

The bill will be introduced and voted upon in the next House session and sent to the Senate for approval. House Speaker Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) is expected to call a session next week.

The bill is co-sponsored by Villagomez, vice speaker Blas Jonathan Attao (R-Saipan)), floor leader Ralph Yumul (R-Saipan), and Reps. Celina Babauta (D-Saipan), Vicente Camacho (D-Saipan), Joel Camacho (R-Saipan), Edwin Propst (D-Saipan), Corina Magofna (D-Saipan), Christina Sablan (D-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), Richard Lizama (D-Saipan), Leila Staffler (D-Saipan), and Denita Yangetmai (D-Saipan). (PR)

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