Senate finalizing budget bill version


Senate vice president Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) said yesterday they are now moving forward in finalizing the Senate version of the budget bill for fiscal year 2021.

Hofschneider, who chairs the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee, also disclosed that they are looking at other ways to fund some, if not most, of the Commonwealth Medicaid Agency’s funding request, from both direct appropriation and providing provisions to be included in the budget bill for consideration.

“We hope to be able to fund the entire $8 million request and that is the task before the committee,” he said.

Commonwealth Medicaid Agency director Helen C. Sablan wrote Hofschneider on Aug. 25, 2020, expressing fears that the CNMI may lose millions of dollars in health care funding if the government fails to adequately fund the program.

During his committee’s hearing on Tinian last Tuesday, Hofschneider said they heard the mayors’ and their agencies’ budget request for fiscal year 2021. He said the committee sought information and clarification as to their needs based on the current year’s operation (including impacts of a 48% cut) plus what they hope to receive given the significant decrease on the overall projection for fiscal year 2021.

The senator said that Office of Management and Budget representative Cheree Palacios apprised the committee about certain full-time employees in certain departments who qualify for cost-sharing of FTE’s fiscal needs for this budget year and into the entire fiscal year 2021.

“Overall, the hearing went well,” he said.

Last Aug. 13, the House passed House Bill 21-124, or the Appropriations and Budget Authority Act of 2021. The total identified budgetary resources for fiscal year 2021 is $144.41 million, subject to adjustments bringing it down to $87.21 million.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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