Rep. Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota), the House of Representatives chairperson on the bicameral conference committee, said yesterday that they expect that their meeting will not take long to work out a mutually acceptable budget bill for the CNMI government operations in fiscal year 2022.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry about the conference committee’s meeting this Friday, Manglona said they and the Senate’s representatives to the committee will discuss the amendments that the Senate had made to the House’s version of the budget bill.
“There are a few concerns we would like to address and it is our hope we can get a product that both [chambers will be] satisfied with to avoid a [government] shutdown,” he said.
Manglona said they do not anticipate dragging this meeting as they have already gotten clarification for some of the amendment that were made and that they are ready to address them come Friday.
The other House conferees are Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) as vice chairperson, Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) as member, and Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) as an alternate.
For the Senate, Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota) is the chairperson, while Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (R-Saipan) is the vice chairperson. The other conferees are Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian) as member, and Sen. Karl R. King-Nabors (R-Tinian) as the alternate member.
The joint conference committee meeting regarding the budget bill, House Bill 22-74, HD3, SD1, will be held in the House chamber this Friday at 1:30pm.
The committee will be working on a deadline to ensure that they come up with a budget bill that the Legislature will pass and bring to the table of Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, 2021. Without a budget for the new fiscal year, the CNMI government will be forced to have a partial shutdown.
At the Aug. 31 House session, all 15 Representatives present voted to reject the Senate’s version of the $144.84-million budget bill for fiscal year 2022.
During discussions, Manglona said they appreciate the Senate’s speedy review and approval of certain provisions that the House had proposed but there are provisions in the Senate version that they would like to address in the conference committee, particularly the salary adjustments for Cabinet members.
From the $144,848,801 total identified budgetary resources for fiscal year 2022, minus debt service, this leaves the government $98,897,301 that’s available for appropriation. Including the $4,487,022 budget for the Department of Public Lands, the grand total revenue available for appropriation is $103,384,323.
On top of that is the $175 million allocated to the CNMI in the American Rescue Plan Act. This means the senators appropriated $278,384,323 in combined general local funds and ARPA funds.