House Education chair: Provide NMC more funds to meet MOE

»Budget conferees meet today, tomorrow

House Education Committee chair Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan) suggests giving the Northern Marianas College an additional $300,000 or at least $157,000 to meet the U.S. Department of Education’s maintenance-of-efforts requirements, even as members of the bicameral committee that will come up with a “compromise” fiscal year 2015 budget meet today and tomorrow.

“At the minimum, give NMC additional funding that will allow it to comply with the MOE requirements. …We cannot just ignore NMC,” Benavente said.

While the Senate gave the Public School System an additional $1.6 million to at least meet its MOE requirements, it has not done so with NMC.

NMC Board of Regents chair Frank Rabauliman and other NMC officials met yesterday afternoon with House vice speaker Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan), among others, on Capital Hill. The NMC officials continued to press for additional financial support from lawmakers.

The college said the Senate’s over $4.835 million budget proposal for NMC “severely compromises” the college’s ability to meet the College Access Challenge Grant MOE requirement for fiscal year 2015. If the CNMI fails to meet the MOE requirement, NMC stands to lose its $1.392 million award under this program for fiscal year 2015.

House budget conference chair Rep. Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan) and Senate budget conference chair Sen. Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) issued a joint memo yesterday calling for a joint committee meeting at 9am today and tomorrow.

The six-member conference committee is tasked to come up with a $134.33-million spending plan for 2015 that is acceptable to both the House and the Senate.

Without a new budget law in place by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the CNMI government would have to partially shut down once again.

The House rejected a Senate-amended budget bill over what they deem as an unconstitutional provision pertaining to the offsetting of the government’s $400,000 debt to Bridge Capital LLC for non-payment of La Fiesta leases, salary increases, and advance quarterly allotments, among other things.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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