Gov. Eloy S. Inos submitted a budget proposal of $145.8 million to the Legislature late Wednesday night to beat the April 1 deadline mandated by the Constitution.
The budget represents an increase of $11.5 million, or 8.55 percent, from the budget of the previous fiscal year, Inos said in a letter to House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) and Senate President Victor B. Hocog (Ind-Rota).
“After adjusting for debt service appropriations, earmarked funds, and other legal obligations, the net resources available for general appropriations is $145,820,375,” Inos said.
The budget was derived from the gross budgetary resources reported by the Secretary of Finance for fiscal year 2016 at $183.55 million.
Of that amount, 37 percent ($68 million) came from business gross revenue tax, while 21 percent ($38 million) came from income taxes.
Excise taxes contributed 18 percent ($32.4 million) of the gross budget, while “other taxes” pitched in 13 percent ($24.6 million).
Licenses and fees contributed 7 percent ($13.3 million), while charges for services and other revenue contributed 4 percent ($7.2 million) combined.
The government was earlier expected to submit a lower budget of $134 million.
Rep. Antonio Sablan (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the Committee Ways and Means that will handle the budget hearings, said the $145.8 million budget was “reasonable.” He said he would have been “concerned” if the budget was pegged at $137 million.
“There have been economic activities out there. I see a lot of people working out there,” Sablan said, adding that more enforcement of tax collections should also be looked at.
“I’m glad to see the numbers, which are more realistic,” Sablan.
Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) added that $145.8 million is “better than $134 million.”
The hard work is expected to now begin for lawmakers, with impending hearings on the individual budget appropriations for the different government agencies.
According to the governor’s proposed spending plan, there will be an increased allocation toward the Settlement Trust by $3 million, boosting the $27 million allotted to the fund to $30 million. This will cover the minimum annual payment sufficient to enable the Fund to pay 75 percent of class members’ full benefits.
The remaining 25 percent of class members’ full benefits is earmarked as a separate contribution to the Settlement Fund pursuant to Public Laws 18-30 and Public Law 18-56.
The Public School System will get 25 percent of general fund revenues, $36.45 million, as mandated by a recently enacted legislative initiative.
Out of the sum, $29.13 million is for current actual salaries for PSS and those under the Board of Education. The PSS budget also allocates $3.6 million for payment of current and outstanding utilities, and $3.1 million for all schools’ deferred facilities maintenance.
The newly created Department of Fire and EMS will get an increase of $687,000 in its budget, from $2.569 million in fiscal year 2015 to $3.3 million for fiscal 2016.
For the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the budget proposal included the continued contribution of $2 million to help defray the cost of clinical services for indigents.
The Northern Marianas College is proposed to get an allocation of $4.475 million for fiscal 2016.
A budget of $1.7 million is being proposed for the CNMI Department of Labor from the Commonwealth workers’ fee funds.
The budget plan allocates $12.7 million for utilities to defray utility consumption charges for the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. It recommends an increase of budget allocation for utilities in the future.
The municipalities of Tinian and Rota will receive equal allocation for utilities payment of $465,000 each.