Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will be signing House Bill 19-19, better known as the CNMI government’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, today in a brief ceremony at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multipurpose Center in Susupe.
Torres is expected to sign the bill at 9am and will take place ahead of the back-to-back proclamation signings declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Fire Safety Month. The 2016 fiscal year ends on Friday, Sept. 30.
He made the announcement in yesterday’s signing of HB 19-126 or the act to amend 1 CMC 3405 regarding the judicial building fund and to authorize the CNMI government to enter into a loan agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan) also announced it in yesterday’s session of the Saipan and Northern Islands Delegation at the House Chamber of the Hon. Jesus P. Mafnas Memorial Building. He invited SNILD members and other lawmakers to attend today’s signing.
Torres said he would veto some of the provisions of the budget bill, but nothing that would greatly affect it. “I’ll be signing the bill [today]. There will be some a little bit of vetoing but nothing that would hamper the budget itself.”
He added that he wanted to finally sign into law the budget bill, introduced by Rep. Antonio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan), before the start of the 2017 fiscal year on Saturday. “We want to move forward with this and those [provisions] that are vetoed, I’m sure we could address that at a later date.”
Torres had less than three days to review the CNMI budget bill after the Legislature, which finished the bicameral conference committee meeting last Friday, unanimously passed it in separate emergency sessions last Saturday. The Legislature went on a conference meeting after the House voted 18-2 to reject some of the amendments made by the Senate.
The Executive Branch prepares and submits the budget proposal to the House, which in turn would file a bill. The administration proposed a budget of $142,209,601 that would fund the government’s various departments, agencies, branches, and programs.
Torres assumed the CNMI’s top post after the death of then Gov. Eloy S. Inos on Dec. 28 last year. The CNMI Commonwealth Code considers Torres a new governor.
According to CMC 1 7201 the preparation of the proposed annual budget shall take “no later than six months before the beginning of each fiscal year, the Governor shall prepare and submit to the Legislature a balanced budget for review as required by [the CNMI] Constitution, Art. III, IX (a) and the provisions of this part.”
“In the event of a change in administration, the new Governor shall make his or her first submission no later than five months before the beginning of the fiscal year.”
April 1, 2016 is the start of counting for six months and May 1 if five. FY 2017 begins on Oct. 1.
Torres returned to Saipan last Monday after making official trips to Alaska and Washington, D.C. He said, in an earlier statement, that despite being off-island he is fully aware of what’s taking place in the Legislature.