Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ decision to veto a certain allocation in a recently passed Rota local law has prompted a Rota senator to express disappointment with the governor during a Senate session last Thursday.
Sen. Steve Mesngon (R-Rota), who chairs the Rota Legislative Delegation, the governor had no reason to veto a specific portion of the bill as the language involved with the appropriation was identical to other legislations of a similar nature.
Torres, in enacting House Local Bill 20-55 into Rota Local Law 20-08, vetoed a $70,880 appropriation for the Rota Legislative Delegation’s operations as well as an additional $20,000 for the Grace Christian Academy Rota and the Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja.
The local bill altogether appropriates over $1.4 million in funding from the casino license renewal fee under Public Law 18-56 to various Rota programs, agencies, and offices.
Of the total, Torres vetoed $70,880 allocated to the delegation after explaining in his transmittal letter that it did not specify how the funds would be used.
“Due to the reservations I have regarding the provision’s failure to delineate the particular purpose for this operational funding, and until such time that the purpose of this funding is made apparent, I must respectfully veto this provision,” Torres explained.
According to Mesngon: “I am just so concerned [because] the governor vetoed this item when there is also local laws from the Tinian delegation [and] Saipan delegation, which [had] the same appropriation and language. I am very, very disappointed.”
Mesngon pointed out that some medical referral patients have approached the Rota delegation to seek assistance, which was the intention of the provision.
“I am not sure what happened to the governor, but he vetoed this provision [that] supports our community, especially the people of Rota,” said Mesngon.
Torres also vetoed a provision of the bill, which appropriated $220,000 for GCA Rota and Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja, since both schools are considered private.
“…Local appropriations bills seeking to allocate public funds to private schools cannot be approved absent justification of a public purpose for which the funding is intended to carry out,” said Torres, adding that provision failed to describe a specific public purpose for the funds and is therefore in violation of the public purposes statute, hence the veto.
“…Although I agree with the intent of much of this bill and understand its significance in the sustainability and advancement of the lives of the people of [Rota], I urge the local delegation to revisit the matter and re-appropriate the remaining funds in consideration of the public purpose requirement,” said the governor.