Almost two years ago, the notorious Public Law 19-83 stealthily became law. The bill was introduced by our illustrious House speaker, Ralph Demapan. In essence, it was a self-interest bill for elected leaders. The bitter ingredients of the bill included astronomical pay increase of 80 percent for them, with the paltry bread crumbs of 5 percent for low-paid civil service employees. The law is now under review by the court for its legality. Taxpayers’ money, which is owned by the public, is very delicious.
Their justification for the insult of an increase is that the elected leaders’ salaries have been stagnant for many years. Wow, the Legislature is now an employment agency.
The good speaker said the bill was introduced based on the recommendations of an advisory commission. Guess who were sitting in the panel—former and current legislators at the time. Interestingly, their data was gathered from the U.S. Congress and its territories and thereafter produced the salary recommendations. I wonder if the recommendations contained educational attainment because the U.S. legislators are composed of over 80 percent lawyers. Moreover, legislators from U.S. territories are mostly master degree holders and above and, of course, they do not grasp for words. Honorable speaker, it was only a recommendation from the panel, not a mandatory introduction on the floor.
Now that it is a law, it has stirred disgruntled controversies that are not in the best interest of the public. Perhaps, P.L. 19-83 should be repealed and a gradual increase bill that is acceptable to the public should be introduced.
Mr. Speaker, it was also you who introduced an exclusive casino bill upon arrival from your brief wine-and-dine trip for a bird’s eye casino view operation in Macau. Let me remind you, the people whom you are supposed to represent rejected the casino referendum twice. You breached their trust. Fortunately, the casino presence boosted the CNMI economy. Second, you introduced a bill, now P.L. 19-83, right after election, assumingly, not even one week into the position. I wonder why the 80-percent salary increase was not in your re-election campaign agenda for the 19th Legislature. Perhaps, your idea to introduce the salary increase bill right after the election almost two years ago will give ample time for people to be oblivious this coming November.