House OKs $24M-plus supplemental appropriation


The House of Representatives passed a supplemental appropriation last Friday to divvy up $24 million collected from the Saipan Casino Operator’s Business Gross Revenue Tax.

The House passed the budget bill with a unanimous vote of 17-0.

Reps. Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan) and Joseph “Leepan” Guerrero (R-Saipan), along with House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan), were absent from the session.

A total of $16.5 million from the Casino Generated Gross Revenue Tax, or CGRT, was available for appropriation. An additional $5.9 million, along with an additional $1.5 million, were added from leftover balances of previous appropriations.

Over $11.8 million in supplemental funding goes to the Public School System for school repairs; federal matching funds; purchase of instructional materials; employer share increases for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 for health and life insurance; utilities; purchase of school buses and vans; and the purchase of parts and fuel for the buses.

The bill earmarked $150,000 to committees under the Board of Education, while the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. gets $2.75 million for indigent care compensation and funding for electronic healthcare records system.

Some $3 million goes to land compensation, while $1 million and $500,000 goes to the Mangloña v CNMI and the Tano Group v Department of Public Lands cases, respectively.

The bill also set aside $1 million and $275,000 to the Northern Marianas College and the Northern Marianas Trades Institute, respectively, while $500,000 and $300,000 is allocated to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Child Care Development Fund and the Substance Abuse Recovery and Prevention, respectively.

Some $850,000 is allocated for land compensation judgments on Rota, while $850,000 is allocated for the West San Jose Homestead Water Project on Tinian.

The new Planning and Development Office is allocated $500,000, $175,000 for the Office of Management and Budget, and $126,056.35 is allocated to the Governor’s Office to provide the CNMI with the “greatest level of advocacy in Washington, D.C.”

The remaining $50,000 is allocated for those who have not been paid the outstanding retroactive lump-sum payments for active and inactive employees who got stuck in Step 12 during the financial austerity measures in the early 2000’s, as provided by Public Law 19-75.

The bill’s author, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), said he looks forward to introducing more funding measures for other agencies that have “unmet needs.”

“…We are looking forward to the next round of supplemental revenues wherein we will address other unmet needs in areas such as public safety, fire, customs, and the settlement fund. I have had discussions with Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres and the Secretary of Finance with regards to some of these pending financial needs,” he told Saipan Tribune.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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