Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) and company are looking at filing a lawsuit against the CNMI government over the proposed 80-percent salary increase for elected officials.
In an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday, Propst said he is looking for lawyers who are willing to “take up a taxpayer lawsuit” against the CNMI government to ensure the 80-percent salary increase isn’t implemented.
“I seek a legal solution to this so that we can finally, once and for all, dispose of the salary increase and allow for us to focus on other greater priorities,” Propst told Saipan Tribune.
The salary hike is mandated by Public Law 19-83.
He said there are five others who support a lawsuit, but he declined to identify them.
Propst said his biggest concern with the salary increase was how uncertain the future is.
“Once the salary increases go through, it would be constitutionally protected and they can’t change it. It is $1.2 million additional burden for taxpayers,” said Propst. “It seems like a small amount in a strong economy, but what if [the economy] collapses?”
Propst also proposes a part-time legislature, as other states in the U.S. mainland have.
According to Propst, part-time legislatures meet about 60-100 times a year.
For the 19th Legislature, the House met in official session only 49 times, which he said averages about one official session every two weeks minus the committee meetings.
“We can still do that in a part-time basis…If we officially become a part-time legislature, it would open up the doors to so many people in the community who would not have to let go of their day jobs to serve,” he said.
“…We come and go as we please in the Legislature. We can work [for an hour] to a hundred hours in a week. It is completely up to us. Given that we are not required by law to put in so many hours, all the more reason for us to move toward a part-time legislature,” he added.