The Northern Marianas Trades Institute is urging the Senate to pass a supplemental budget bill so it could continue operating in the CNMI.
NMTI chief executive officer Agnes McPhetres urged the Senate last Friday to adopt Rep. Angel Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-147 to enable the trade school to pay the salaries of NMTI instructors.
According to McPhetres, the Commonwealth Scholarship Office has cut NMTI’s share of the annual CW fees by 50 percent, devastating the trade school due to the lack of money to finance the salaries of its teachers.
“Enrollment has grown from [about] 300 to 599 this year, so we had to hire more instructors. If we had known from the beginning that [the Scholarship Office intended to cut our budget], we would not have opened all those classes,” McPhetres said, adding that NMTI was made to believe that the CNMI Scholarship Office would be giving NMTI at least the same amount of funding it gave NMTI last fiscal year.
“The first allotment [the CNMI Scholarship Office] gave us was in the middle of October 2017, but the classes started in August 2017,” she said.
McPhetres said that NMTI asked for a little over $1 million in CW funds. “We only got $500,000-some,” she added.
While NMTI lacks about $500,000 in funding just to continue operations, H.B. 20-147 allocates $275,000 for the trade school.
Starting fiscal year 2018, the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had designated the CNMI Scholarship Office to administer the CW fees.
In a previous statement, the Torres administration said that assigning the CNMI Scholarship Office to administer the fees is intended to make the disbursement of money more efficient. The CNMI Department of Labor used to administer the CW fees.
Last Jan. 31, 2018, the House passed Sen. Justo Quitugua’s (Ind-Saipan) bill to convert NMTI into a public institution to allow for the allocation of funds from the general funds.