The advisory commission tasked to review salary increases for legislators and other government officials wants to include the Office of the Attorney General in an advisory role.
Alex Sablan, who has been elected to chair the commission, noted in an interview after their two-hour meeting that the commission has agreed to invite an OAG representative to advise the body.
“I asked the commission members if they would agree to allow for a representative of the OAG at the table to provide us legal advice,” he said. “…It’s so that we don’t have a question about what comes down the road.”
Sablan noted that, although Public Law 20-71—the statute that created the advisory commission—states that the commission does not particularly have a deadline, he wishes to be done with the recommendation within a month.
“…Under the law, we have as long as we need to establish this, but we are attempting to try and do this after 30 days,” he said. “We are hopeful that in the next week or two, we could actually come up with the determining factor on how we could calculate the…increase.”
P.L. 20-71 states that the commission is free to use any accepted composite price index. Sablan said yesterday that the composite index previously used by the former advisory commission created by Public Law 19-83 was not the best to use and that the commission would have to go as far back as 1978 to look at the index used then for calculations.
“We just organized and looked at different [methodologies] for the calculation of wages,” he said. He noted that some members of the commission would be heading to the Central Statistics Division for assistance in the calculations.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres appointed three members to the commission, while the Senate president and the House speaker each appointed two members, totaling seven members.
The commission is made up of Sablan, president of the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp., former Senate president Pete Reyes, special assistant for Management and Budget Virginia Villagomez, Torres’ former chief of staff Matthew Deleon Guerrero, former representative Rosemond B. Santos, Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan), and Legislative Bureau fiscal analyst David Demapan.
Only Deleon Guerrero was absent from the meeting.
Last Aug. 31, the CNMI Supreme Court issued an opinion concluding that the salary increases as authorized in P.L. 19-83 was unconstitutional, including all prior salary increases.
The court further concluded that salary increases for the Legislature must be calculated based off a specific accepted composite price index; within the percentage change of the accepted CPI for the period since the last salary increase; and no greater than the maximum salary recommended by the advisory commission.