Torres nixes bill to make NMTI a public institution


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, center, meets with officials of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute to discuss plans moving forward to safeguard the growth and success of NMTI. (Contributed Photo)

A bill that would have converted the Northern Marianas Trades Institute into a public institution—and thus receive public funds—has been vetoed.

In his transmittal message to the 20th Legislature last Friday, March 16, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expressed reservations about the bill’s immediate and long-term financial impact on the government.

He did praise the Legislature for passing Senate Bill 20-21, SS1, SD1: “I commend the Legislature for making meaningful strides toward addressing the critical issues affecting our labor force and for recognizing the need for well-coordinated and comprehensive training sources for local U.S. citizens and permanent residents.”

The bill sought to convert the NMTI, a private nonprofit school, into a public career and technical training institution that will be called “the Northern Marianas Technical Institute,” therefore giving NMTI all the powers conferred by law upon a public corporation.

“In light of the substantial nature of this endeavor, due diligence must be afforded to ensuring that responsible fiscal planning exists before the government can undertake any additional financial burdens; these efforts include an evaluation of NMTI’s current assets and private debts. Thus, although I agree with the bill’s intent and purpose, I am unable to approve of S.B. 20-21, SS1, SD1 until I can assiduously address these concerns,” Torres said. 

Despite this, Torres assured that he supports NMTI’s mission of developing the local workforce and its role to ensure that every willing local worker has the skills and access to employment in order to be self-sufficient, progress within the economy, and become contributing members of society.

“For this reason, I will continue to secure the necessary funding for the advancement and operation of NMTI,” he said. “Additionally, it is my goal to create a task force within the various government agencies in order to thoroughly assess the trade school’s current and future organizational and financial structure.”

Torres said his administration will designate a suitable property within the Commonwealth to act as a permanent home for NMTI.

In line with this, Torres encouraged the active involvement and investment of the Public School System in this goal. “It is my belief that a partnership between PSS and NMTI will be a mutually beneficial one that will meet our shared objective of developing the Commonwealth’s human potential.”

He did assure that, although he is vetoing the bill at this time, he looks forward to working with all stakeholders and the Legislature “to safeguard the growth and success of NMTI.”

Saipan Tribune

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