Members of the House of Representatives adopted the $148.5-million budget proposed by the administration of Gov. Eloy S. Inos for fiscal year 2016.
House Concurrent Resolution 19-01 was adopted during a session on Friday at the House chamber on Capital Hill.
Rep. Antorio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, filed House Concurrent Resolution 19-01, detailing the proposed budget.
After adopting the resolution, lawmakers will then convene government departments and conduct budget hearings.
Sablan said the “bigger” departments will most likely have first crack at the budget hearings, including the Department of Public Safety, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., particularly Medical Referral, and Department of Finance.
Sablan meanwhile addressed concerns that the adopted budget may be a bit “conservative,” according to a comment from Rep. Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan) during the session.
“For [Yumul], the projection is too conservative,” Sablan said.
Sablan said he would rather “be conservative, and be safe later.”
“We can always address additional revenues for supplemental budget rather than be overconfident and over-project,” he said, adding that lawmakers want to avoid going for austerity measures on the third and fourth quarter.
He added that this was done in the past, when lawmakers thought the government had more money, only to reduce the hours of government employees to cut costs.
“This is what we want to avoid,” Sablan said. “The bottom line is we need to agree with the government on the budget projection so that we can move on to the next process and conduct the actual budget hearings.”
Sablan said if government realizes more revenues in the coming months, then another resolution may be filed for a supplemental budget.
The budget for fiscal year 2016 is considered a projection, because the fiscal year 2015 started Oct. 1, 2014 and will end Sept. 30, 2015.