‘House budget bill irresponsible, borders on negligence’


Edwin P. Aldan

Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan said Friday that essentially the House of Representatives’ version of the budget bill for the government’s operations in Fiscal Year 2023 as it pertains to Tinian is irresponsible and borders on negligence.

Speaking during a budget hearing held in the Tinian courthouse, Aldan said the House bill version terminates current Tinian municipality employees and reduces the municipality’s operations to a level that will definitely affect safety of the people and the delivery of the essential public services.

Aldan said there are only seven days from Friday from the end of fiscal year and that tremendous pressure  will be placed on the legislature to pass a budget  on time to prevent a partial government shutdown.

“I would like to ask the Senate to rise above the politics and prioritize continuing employment of the people to a level where we can effectively deliver public services,” he said.

Last Aug. 27, the House passed a budget bill to appropriate $109.7 million out of $150.4 million in total budgetary resources, and $52.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act funds, for government operations in FY  2023.

With the backing of their legal counsel Joe Bermudes’ opinion, stating, among other things, that it is only the governor who has the authority to allocate or expend ARPA funds, the Senate on Friday unanimously passed their version of a budget bill.

Speaking before the Senate voted to pass their version of the budget, Aldan said as a former member of the Legislature, he truly understands the politics behind the formulation and passing of the budget during an election year.

However, Aldan said, there should never be any reason for political differences to cause the termination and financial hardship of current government employees.

Unfortunately, he said, this is exactly what the House’s version of the budget is.

The mayor said that, last Sept. 16, the House Ways and Means Committee had a press conference justifying their budget.

He said in that press conference, the House majority said that their budget will not have an effect on existing employees of Tinian and Rota.

Aldan said the House majority members continue to defend the budget to the media insisting that they did their due diligence in formulating this budget.

“As the mayor of Tinian, I can state with absolute certainty that this is not correct,” said the mayor as he cited two examples to prove that the House did not do their due diligence.

He said first, the House version gives the Department of Commerce three full time employees, but the Tinian Commerce has four FTEs since the beginning of FY 2022.

Aldan said under the House’s version, those civil service employees will be terminated on Oct. 1st.

He said second, the House version of the budget provides  the Tinian Mayor’s Office 140 FTEs.

He said, however, the mayor’s office has 123 filled FTEs if the Legislature would pass the House version.

Aldan said it is clear  that the House did not do due diligence as it pertains to Tinian’s current employees.

“If the House version is passed, it will have dire consequences to many Tinian government employees  and their families, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

The mayor also noted that the House’s version reduced the Tinian Department of Public Safety budget by nearly $600,000 or 35%.

“Again, I can’t comprehend how such a drastic cut to the most  essential department makes any sense,” Aldan said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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