CITING VETOED PROVISIONS OF BUDGET BILL
Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) questioned yesterday Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ decision to veto 20 sections and subsections in signing the budget bill for fiscal year 2022 into law last week, prompting him to ask: Where is the check and balance between the branches of the government?
Speaking at a Senate session, Manglona said if the Legislature cannot have a say on the number of government employees, full-time employees, and their corresponding salaries, and on budget reprogramming authority and restrictions, then what and where is the power of the Legislature?
The senator said that, in approving the fiscal year 2022 budget bill last week in time to avoid a government shutdown in the Commonwealth, Torres also struck down critical budgetary and accountability provisions in the appropriation bill.
In informing legislative leaders last week that he had signed the bill into law, Torres said he was compelled to address several sections of the bill that he found “problematic.” either in their implementation and/or in their lack of fairness to other activities or the different branches of government.
Torres noted that many of the provisions added by the Legislature are either unclear or inconsistent with other provisions of law, or impose additional and unnecessary steps that would delay efficient processes that are already in place.
Manglona, however, urged the Senate to review carefully all the vetoed parts of the budget plan. He also asked the Senate’s legal counsel to do an analysis on each of the vetoed parts and give an opinion as to the legality of the governor’s action on each item.
Manglona cited the legal opinion issued by Senate counsel Jose A. Bermudes in 2012 on Public Law 17-85. In that opinion, Bermudes concluded that the governor’s line-item veto of the $200,000 earmarked for Public Law 7-31 salary adjustments from the Mayor of Rota’s allocations in Public Law 17-85 was “an unconstitutional veto of a condition/restriction of an appropriation bill as written and thus a nullity.”
Manglona is hoping that similar research can be done on the newly enacted budget law, P.L. 22-08.
The senator said the vetoed parts include:
– Section 304 pertaining to the implementation of any changes in government employees pay.
– Section 404 and Section 501 on budget reduction and reprogramming authority.
– Section 601 on government utilities expenditure and on restrictions of payments for the utilities of any elected officials.
– Section 604 on the limitations of governor’s use of emergency order and executive order to reprogram funds appropriated by the budget bill.
– Section 700 on maximum number of positions established for each of the business units.
– Section 704(c ) on the $50,000 appropriation for a market feasibility study on the casino gaming industry in the CNMI.
– Section 802(d ) pertaining to the American Rescue Plan Act that requires a House joint resolution for the governor to make changes to its allocations.