Gov. Eloy S. Inos has moved to 1:30pm today his signing of the fiscal year 2015 budget bill, along with two revenue-generating bills. One increases the cigarette tax initially by 75 cents and another $1 increase after three years, while the other bill provides tax amnesty.
The governor’s signing of these bills was originally scheduled for yesterday but had to be pushed back over other meetings and further review of the bills.
Once Inos signs the 2015 spending package bill, this would be a record-early in CNMI history. It is still two weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline and the beginning of a new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The 2015 budget is $134.33 million, but officials are expecting a supplemental budget in the middle of the year.
Rep. Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), author of the 2015 budget bill and House Ways and Means Committee chairman, said yesterday he looks forward to the budget’s enactment into law, as well as the signing of his tax amnesty bill.
Sablan said as far as he knows, the governor won’t line-item veto the budget provisions on education funding, which the House and Senate increased. Sablan met with the governor last week and yesterday about the budget bill and other matters.
The cigarette tax bill, authored by House floor leader Ralph Demapan (R-Saipan), meanwhile, would gradually increase cigarette tax by a total of $1.75 a pack over a four-year period. This means a 75-cent increase immediately after the bill becomes law and another $1 increase after three years.
The bill seeks to discourage cigarette smoking while at the same time fund cancer treatment programs and the government health insurance.