Legislature ready to act on budget


The Legislature is set to act on the CNMI’s fiscal year 2019 budget after the conference committee ironed out all issues in a marathon meeting yesterday at the Senate chamber on Capital Hill.

The House and Senate will be having separate sessions tomorrow, Wednesday, to put House Bill 20-173 SS1 into a floor vote. The House session will start at 9:30am at the House chamber while the Senate is set at 10am.

The budget bill, introduced by House Ways and Means Committee chair Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), will head to the desk of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for review as the CNMI chief executive needs to sign it before Oct. 1 to avert a government shutdown.

The budget went into a conference committee after the House, voting 16-1, rejected the Senate version of H.B. 20-173 SS1 in last week’s session.

The conference committee was composed of Demapan, vice speaker Janet U. Maratita (R-Saipan), Rep. B.J. Attao (Ind-Saipan), and alternate Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) on the House side, while Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), Senate vice president Steve K. Mesngon (R-Rota), Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), and alternate Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) represented the Senate.

The conference committee met Friday morning and ended at past 7pm. They worked through the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, so they could meet halfway on the issues raised by the House on the amendments made by the Senate when they passed H.B. 20-173 SS1 last Sept. 6.

The final budget bill, as agreed on by Demapan and Hofschneider, shows increases for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Public School System, Northern Marianas College, Medicaid reimbursement, Tinian, and Rota.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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