Rep. Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), author of the supplemental budget measure or House Bill 18-192, along with other members, said if the government defaults on its annual minimum payment to the retirement settlement trust, the judgment against the government would be over $770 million.
“It will essentially bankrupt the government if we default on it…that’s the consequence,” Sablan said during session.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ proposed $12.386 million supplemental budget for 2014 offers to set aside $7.386 million for the government-employer share in the health and life insurance plan, while $5 million will be added to the $20 million earlier appropriated to complete the $25 million required minimum payment to the settlement trust fiscal year FY 2014.
But Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) offered a floor amendment to use that $5 million instead to pay for judgments against the government including unpaid land compensation. Tebuteb reminded his colleagues about the government’s prior year obligations.
House members took turns opposing or supporting Tebuteb’s proposed floor amendment.
In the end, 11 members voted to reject Tebuteb’s proposed floor amendment, while seven members supported it.
One member, Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), abstained. Rep. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) was excused from the session as she was on Rota for school graduations.
The 11 who voted against Tebuteb’s plan to divert $5 million away from the retirement settlement trust and into land compensation payments and other prior government obligations were: Reps. Antonio Agulto (Ind-Saipan), George Camacho (R-Saipan), Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan), Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan), Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan), Mario Taitano (Ind-Saipan), Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), and Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).
The seven who supported Tebuteb’s amendment were Reps. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), Richard Seman (R-Saipan), Tebuteb, Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan), Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan), and Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan).
Yumul’s proposed floor amendment to set aside $60,000 for the Commonwealth Election Commission for its expenses related to the November 2014 elections was adopted.
Sablan’s HB 18-192, House Draft 1 passed the House by a vote of 18-0. Maratita voted “present.”
The House also adopted Rep. John Paul Sablan’s House Joint Resolution 18-16 authorizing the CNMI through the governor to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development actions plans for a block grant and an emergency solutions grant, among other things.
House members also adopted JP Sablan’s Commemorative Resolution 18-9, honoring KSPN 2’s Bon Coldeen for a “distinguished career in sports and commend his countless accomplishments and contributions” to the CNMI people. The House went into short recess to present Coldeen, along with his wife, with a copy of the resolution. Members also said in unison, “Did you get that, Bob?”