House panel wraps up 2015 budget hearings

The House Ways and Means Committee wrapped up on Monday its agency budget hearings, and will now begin drafting a budget bill that will spell out where the $134 million in projected revenues available for appropriations for fiscal year 2015 will be spent.

Committee chair Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said most agencies will get the budget that Gov. Eloy S. Inos proposed in his submission to the Legislature, but there would be adjustments in certain critical programs such as medical referral.

Sablan reminded agencies that giving more to one agency means cutting from other agencies.

“If we’re going to give anybody else more than what they have on the current budget proposal, we have to take it from somebody, so that’s the critical thing. It’s taking from somebody else to give to somebody,” he said.

The Ways and Means Committee’s last agency hearing was on the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s budget on Monday.

“Based on Monday’s budget hearing, with new CFO on board, they’ve asked and we’ve given them an opportunity to revise their projection, budget worksheets…judging from the CEOs statement, I think they’re comfortable with what their proposal is,” he said.

The committee chairman said he’s also glad that CHC will be implementing some procedural changes to beef up billing and collection.

Sablan also noted that the Medical Referral Program is looking at bringing in more specialists to the CNMI to treat patients here rather than send them off island.

Fiscal year 2015 is from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015.

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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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