Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP) said over the weekend that furloughed CNMI government employees could get their jobs back if President Joseph Biden Jr. enacts the Democratic Party’s proposal to provide the Marianas $515 million to make up for lost government revenue.
Sablan stated in his e-kilili newsletter that the proposal is part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, which is now going through the committee approval process in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The Committee on Oversight and Government Operations was marking up its piece of the rescue plan, containing the Marianas money in a Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, as we went to press,” he said.
The delegate said former President Donald J. Trump and Senate Republicans blocked this direct aid for state and territory governments in the December relief package, Public Law 116-260.
He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to have the House send the completed American Rescue Plan bill to the Senate by the end of the month.
Sablan said the goal is to have Biden sign it into law before the current round of unemployment assistance expires on March 14, 2021.
Last Tuesday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres informed the Legislature that he and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios are making a very difficult decision to initiate reduction-in-force procedures involving 180 government employees that are currently on furlough as part of ongoing cost-containment measures to ensure the continuity of public services. “I have no choice when we don’t have any tourism and revenue,” Torres said.
In his letter to Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider and House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez, Torres said it would require $5,688,239 to fully fund the 180 positions. This, Torres said, is in addition to the 3% shortfall in anticipated revenue incurred during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.
He said he and Palacios are making the decision after consulting with the Civil Service Commission, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Commonwealth’s executive department heads.