MVA, Finance reps fret over House version of retirees’ bonus

Hofschneider says House should have sought an audience with MVA, Finance prior to passing their version of legislation

Officials of the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Department of Finance met with senators Friday to express concerns over the House of Representatives’ passage of their version of legislation that would pave the way for the government retirees’ $1,000 bonus.

Last Tuesday, March 29, the House did not act on the Senate’s version of the legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 22-09, and instead, passed their other version, House Bill 22-95.

According to a press statement yesterday by Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), representatives of the MVA and Finance both expressed surprise upon realization that House Bill 22-95 makes cuts on funds that assist with the agencies’ ability to carry out their core functions.

MVA said the reduction would impede MVA’s office operations as well as its ability to host upcoming community events and beautification projects that are aimed to promote, preserve, and enhance the islands.

Finance also said the proposed re-appropriation of funds under House Bill 22-95 may also affect the department’s overall functionality and would lead to a great disadvantage within the Commonwealth.

Hofschneider said it is for these reasons that there is a great deal of dismay surrounding the passage of House Bill 22-95.

It has been suggested that any money taken from MVA or other agencies would be replenished using American Rescue Plan Act funds, but Hofschneider said this idea is inconsistent with federal rules as there are certain restrictions on the use of ARPA funds. It was House vice speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) who earlier said that the $850,000 they proposed to remove from MVA for the $1,000 bonuses for government retirees will be backfilled or returned to MVA through the ARPA funding.

Hofschneider said yesterday that seeking an audience from both MVA and Finance prior to moving on such a critical piece of legislation would have been the least wise action to have taken.

“However, I, along with the leadership of the Senate, is determined to find the source of funds without jeopardizing an industry known in the CNMI for the last 40 years, and ensure the retirees get their bonus soon,” Hofschneider said, adding that it has always been the Senate’s intent to support government retirees.

He noted that the Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 22-05 on Dec. 15, 2021, and Senate Joint Resolution 22-09 on March 10, 2022, both proposing to pave the way for the bonuses. He said these Senate actions were made to ultimately assist the retirees. SJR 22-09 approves Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ request to create a new program and business unit for the government retirees’ $1,000 bonuses.

However, the House countered the Senate’s intent by not acting on Senate Joint Resolution 22-09. Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), said the Senate joint resolution created a business unit for the bonuses, but with zero funding.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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