The House of Representatives accepted last Friday the changes that the Senate made on the over $24-million supplemental appropriation bill for fiscal year 2017.
House Bill 20-147, authored by Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), had been extensively amended on the Senate floor and was accepted by the House.
H.B. 20-147 would allocate over $24 million to several government agencies, with the Public School System receiving over $11.85 million more.
The $24 million is derived from the Special Casino Gross Revenue Tax and is separate from the general fund.
The Senate amendments included a large reduction of funding allocated to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, from $500,000 to $420,000. Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) and Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) set aside $30,000 and $50,000, respectively and took the same amounts from the Office of Planning and Development and allocated it elsewhere, reducing the allocation of the office from $500,000 to $420,000 as well.
Hofschneider allocated the $30,000 from DCCA as well as an additional $30,000 allocated to the Office of Planning and Development to the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to implement infestation prevention measures for Tinian, Saipan, and the rest of the Northern Islands.
Igisomar, on the other hand, reallocated $50,000 from DCCA as well as an additional $50,000 from the Office of Planning and Development to the Northern Marianas Trades Institute.
Hofschneider also moved $878,000 from the PSS allocation to the Tinian Elementary School parking lot renovations, as well as bumping up land compensation judgment obligations to the Manglona v CNMI judgment, from $1 million to $4 million.
Hofschneider noted that, while PSS has the federal funds for the project and after consulting the Board of Education, it was in the best interest of PSS to allocate the federal funds reserved for that project elsewhere.
In a previous interview with Saipan Tribune, DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter said that he is very grateful to the Legislature and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for supporting the funding.
Hunter noted that enacting H.B. 20-147 would mean the first time that local funding would go to childcare assistance.
“This assistance is critical to assisting working people, as one of the greatest difficulties noted is childcare. These funds will be used to assist those who fall within a particular income threshold, who are full-time employees or full-time students,” he said.
“We have been charged by the administration to do everything we can to assist our people get into the workforce and stay in the workforce. This is one of the tools to help make that happen. We will be publishing information in the coming weeks related to the process for applying for this child care assistance,” he added.
H.B. 20-147, HS1, HD1, SD4 now heads to Torres for review and enactment.