Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed yesterday morning House Bill 22-95 Senate Substitute 1 into law, paving the way for each CNMI government retiree to finally get their $1,000 bonuses.
Members of the Senate, the governor’s Cabinet, and a few retirees came together yesterday to witness Torres sign H.B 22-95 SS 1 into Public Law 22-17.
Before signing the bill, Torres apologized to CNMI retirees for waiting this long for their bonuses but he assured them it is now officially underway.
“Moving forward, to all the retirees, I apologize that the House majority took this long to finally accept that we need to give the retirees their bonuses. With that said, I also like to thank the Senate majority for their efforts to find a solution to make this happen,” he said.
Torres said that retirees have always been in one of his highest priorities and they deserve this long overdue bonus for all that they’ve contributed to the CNMI.
“Since I got [in] this office, retirees have always been a priority under my administration, and I continue to make it a priority. Again, giving the retirees their bonus is not a political move. It is the right thing to do. All retirees come from all different aspects of life and different party affiliation. But I have to acknowledge the hard work that all retirees have done in their tenure in government work. This is also another approach to say thank you for all the hard work that they’ve done,” Torres said.
Last Wednesday, H.B 22-95 Senate Substitute 1 gained a unanimous vote in favor of its passage, with 16 members of the House of Representatives voting “yes” and one abstention.
The most important amendment made to the bill that gained the support of the entire House of Representatives was the re-appropriation of funding from general fund personnel lapses instead of reprogramming funds from some government units: the Marianas Visitors Authority, Department of Finance, and the Office of the Governor.
Other amendments include the distribution of the retirement bonuses, and who holds the expenditure authority.
In an interview with Sen. Vinnie Sablan (R-Saipan), who led the amendment of the bill, he said the amendments were the product of the collaboration among his office, Finance Secretary David Atalig, and Senate finance specialist Dave Demapan.
He explained that the process of identifying an alternate source of funding was a tedious one and took several days to complete. However, now that it has been done, he hopes it’s something the House and the Senate can agree on.