House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) said yesterday that he is open to any discussion with the Torres-Palacios administration regarding the expenditure plan for the estimated $515 million that’s allocated to the CNMI under the American Rescue Plan Act.
Villagomez said in an interview there’s no discussion yet about the expenditure plan, but that he and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres “did touch base” sometime last week and that Torres told him that he would reach out to him regarding the spending plan.
“But beyond that, nothing yet,” he said.
Torres stated last Friday he wants to talk with the Legislature on the ARPA expenditure plan, which he described as very complex. Torres said his administration is still working on the plan and that he needs to bring in the Legislature.
Villagomez pointed out that, absent House Bill 22-33, Torres is still the expenditure authority on the ARPA money.
House Bill 22-33, which is now with the Senate, seeks to give the Legislature appropriation powers over the ARPA money. Rep. Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota) is the principal author of the legislation.
Villagomez said the last time he spoke to one of the senators, House Bill 22-33 was referred to the Fiscal Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota).
“It is transmitted. We did pass it,” he said.