Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has explained why he vetoed some provisions in the budget bill for the government’s operations in Fiscal Year 2023 that he described as “unclear, ambiguous, or problematic.”
In his letter Saturday to House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) and Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), Torres said Section 404 of the budget bill sought to require the respective mayors of the First and Second Senatorial Districts (Rota, Tinian and Aguiguan) to use purchase cards issued through E-procurement to pay outstanding vendor billings in a timely manner.
He said this mandate conflicts with existing procurement regulations and processes already in place.
“Due to its restrictive language, I must respectfully exercise my authority to veto this provision in its entirety,” Torres said.
The governor said Section 602(a) of the legislation is problematic because it limits the Executive Branch’s ability to hire employees, especially in the beginning of a new Fiscal Year.
He said this restriction would burden the Executive Branch’s ability to carry out its mandates and functions when positions within the Executive Branch need to be filled.
“For this reason, I must respectfully exercise my authority to veto this provision in its entirety,” the governor said.
He said Section 602(b) is vague and ambiguous, and thus has the potential to delay and bring forth unnecessary hiring burdens onto government departments or agencies when seeking to fill vacant positions.
“As such, I must respectfully exercise my authority to veto this provision in its entirety,” he said.
Torres said Section 703(b) provides that “Notwithstanding 1 CMC Section 7204, without prior legislative approval, no funds appropriated to the Judicial Branch may be reduced.”
The governor said if estimated revenue is less than what is projected, the secretary of Finance may reduce appropriations so that such decreases are absorbed proportionately across all three branches of government.
“This requirement circumvents constitutional processes for enacting laws and violates the separation of powers doctrine. Thus, I must respectfully veto this provision,” he said.
With respect to Section 703(c ), Torres noted that the last sentence of this provision conflicts with existing provisions of law and hinders the government’s ability to make necessary adjustments in cases of emergency.
“Therefore, I must respectfully exercise my authority to veto this provision,” he said.
Torres said Section 704(a) is similar to Section 703 (b) as this provision becomes problematic if estimated revenue is less than what is projected.
“For this reason, I must respectfully exercise my authority to veto this provision,” he said.
Torres vetoed six more provisions in the bill.
The governor assured the community members that his administration has never had issues with meeting Medicaid obligations in the past, and that they have always allocated funding to support Medicaid recipients in the right way.
Similarly, Torres said, his administration has always and will continue to safeguard the retirees’ pensions as is their responsibility to the senior citizens.