During the House of Representatives emergency session to address the Senate’s budget version, some of my colleagues questioned why am I now supporting the Senate version when I initially voted to support the House version on Aug. 27, 2022.
My support for the House version was primarily based on two issues. First, securing the 25% for the retirees and, second, my belief in my colleagues when they stated that no current FTEs would be terminated. The mayor of Tinian, during the Ways and Means public hearings on Tinian, clearly stated that he was in the process of filling all vacant FTEs and requested the House to ensure the continued employment of all Tinian government employees. I guess I may have been naïve and mistaken to trust my colleagues to ensure that no filled FTEs would be terminated.
After the House budget was passed on Aug. 27, 2022, I was informed by the mayor of Tinian that the House budget would eliminate at least nine current Mayor’s Office employees and two civil service employees from the Department of Commerce. I admit I should have met with the mayor prior to supporting the House version and I am thankful to the Senate for reinstating all of the FTEs terminated by the House version. Also, during the Senate budget deliberations, I realized that the House version obtained some questionable provisions that, if legally challenged, could delay the passage of the budget and cause a government shutdown. The Senate version, which was supported by their minority members, removed these questionable provisions and, most importantly, reinstated the FTEs removed by the House version, thus ensuring the continued employment of all current government employees.
As it is my primary objective to ensure the continued employment of all government employees, I support the Senate version of the budget and encourage my colleagues appointed to the conference committee to work with the Senate members to pass a budget before the end of the fiscal year. Let’s show the people of the CNMI that we can work together with the Senate and governor to pass a fair and balanced budget in time to prevent a government shutdown. We owe it to our people.
Rep. Patrick H. San Nicolas
Election District 6
22nd Legislature, Capital Hill