The Northern Marianas College asked the Legislature Wednesday for a budget of at least $6 million for fiscal year 2019.
Ideally, NMC needs over $9.3 million and that’s due to its increased number of enrollees, according to NMC president Dr. Carmen Fernandez.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we got an enrollment of about 1,400 for this fall semester,” said Fernandez. “Our enrollment number is increasing and our graduation numbers are increasing, so we need stable funding.”
According to NMC numbers, the 2017 fall semester had a total of 1,233 enrollees. The prior fall semester had about 1,200 enrollees.
Fernandez pointed out that NMC produced about 275 graduates at their last graduation.
“It’s normally around 200, so that is a really big jump. Fifty new graduates in a year is exceptional performance,” she said.
According to House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), NMC said they could work with $7 million.
He added that the CNMI Constitution states that NMC is entitled to 1 percent of total revenue for the fiscal year or $6 million, whichever is greater.
“…That would ease a lot of the operational burden on them,” Demapan said.
“I believe the first thing the committee would do is get to the constitutional minimum and then, if there is room to move, try to get as close as we can to what they are requesting for,” he said, adding that they still have to look at detailed expenditures, including federal funding, compact impact, tuition, and more.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had proposed a budget of a little less than $4.9 million for NMC for the fiscal year.
NMC was appropriated $4.7 million, plus an additional $100,000 for the NMC Board of Regents the previous fiscal year.
“We just need to be able to have this minimum budget to be able to operate, to continue with all of our initiatives and programs, to pay salaries to employees, and so forth,” said Fernandez.