The Northern Marianas College asked the Legislature on Monday for a $10.7-million budget for fiscal year 2021, as the House Ways and Means Committee kicked off its series of budget hearings at the House chamber on Capital Hill.
In justifying its request, college officials said the requested amount, totaling $10,786,372, would pay for the college’s staff, its Board of Regents, Super Typhoon Yutu expenses, utilities, overload/adjunct instructors, Small Business Development Center operations and personnel, and other expenses.
In the budget request he sent the Legislature earlier, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres proposed a budget of just $2.8 million for NMC, from the $5.9 million allocated in last year’s budget. Its board of regents is being proposed to be allocated $51,158, also a drop from last fiscal year’s $107,853.
According to NMC interim chief finance officer, Shelly Tudela, NMC relies solely on the appropriations request since it will help NMC pay salaries and benefits for staff. NMC has a total of 150 employees that will be funded by the budget.
In a slideshow presentation by NMC interim president Frankie Eliptico, he explained that 78% of the requested funds will go to salaries and benefits, while 9% will go to Super Typhoon Yutu expenses, 6% will go to overload/adjunct instructors, 3% for utilities, 2% for SBDC personnel and operations, 1% for NMC’s Board of Regents, and 1% for other expenses.
Although NMC gets federal funds, these funds do not cover staff salaries and benefits. In fact, Eliptico said that these federal funds will allow NMC to “rebuild and establish NMC’s footprints in the CNMI.” He reiterated that NMC relies heavily on legislative appropriations and Torres’ help to be able to pay locally funded employees.
“As CFO Shelley mentioned, there are these [federal] funds that we’re pursuing [but] none of them fund operations, and that’s where we look to you, because if you saw the pie chart earlier, NMC is pretty much an $18-million to $20-million operation every year—from our federal programs to other programs and services—[and] we rely on the legislative appropriation and the governor’s help in the budgeting process to be able to provide funding for our locally funded employees,” said Eliptico.
The college does have some federally funded staff such as NMC’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services program; Project Proa, which helps students provide tutoring/mentoring services for other students; the Adult Basic Education program; and programs that help individuals with disabilities, etc.
“I want to assure you with extreme confidence that we are doing our best to find other dollars out there…and we’ve been very successful. The funding that we’ve been able to secure in just the last year has not been seen in NMC’s 40-year history,” said Eliptico. “I’m not saying that to toot our own horn. I’m saying that because we want to come here letting you know that, again, we’re trying to help ourselves by finding these funds, but we need your help on these locally funded salaries.”