Retroactive payment bill had ‘technical concerns’
The House of Representatives unanimously voted yesterday to recall the retroactive payment bill that would have addressed the wages of government employees whose wages were stuck at Step 12.
This came about after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in a statement last week that there were “technical concerns” with the language of House Bill 20-108.
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) authored the bill.
According to several members of the Senate, the bill failed to specify where it would get the $1.4 million that would be used to pay about 330 active and inactive government employees who were affected by austerity measures more than 10 years ago.
House floor leader Rep. Glenn Maratita (R-Saipan) moved for the recall of the bill yesterday.
According to Maratita’s motion, HB 20-108 would be recalled to “make necessary amendments to specify the funding source.”
The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres last week issued a statement in support of the intent of the bill that also specified that the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the Attorney General’s Office is “committed” to make sure the “lump-sum payments to our remaining frozen civil service employees are met.”
In a previous Senate session, the chamber almost deadlocked on whether to pass the bill or not despite its failure to specify a source of funds. The bill ultimately passed the Senate.
In order to prevent a repeat of HB 20-108, the Senate amended another of Demapan’s appropriations bill that addresses the Commonwealth government’s balances owed to the Settlement Fund for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The House accepted the Senate amendments yesterday.
Totaling to $7.1 million, HB 20-116 was amended by the Senate after about 40 minutes of discussions with House legal counsels John Cool and Joe Taijeron.
The problem with HB 20-116 was also the failure to specify a source of funds. Sens. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) and Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) voiced out these concerns during the previous Senate session two weeks ago.
Though it was not specified in both bills, Demapan told the media in previous separate interviews that the source of funding for both bills are the casino-generated business gross revenue tax.
HB 20-116 now heads to the governor for signing, while HB 20-108 would be amended to specify a funding source.