FINANCE, TORRES, OAG, SETTLEMENT FUND
Finance Secretary David DLG. Atalig has assured Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) that Finance eagerly awaits legislative action to permit the use of general fund resources for the payment of $1,000 bonuses for government retirees.
In a March 1 letter to Hofschneider, Atalig said that, once granted the authority by the Legislature, Finance stands ready to establish the business unit within the general fund and work with the administration to reprogram from within the Executive Branch the necessary general fund resources.
He said this is in compliance with existing provisions governing reprogramming and under the mandates of Public Law 22-08 and the Commonwealth Code.
Atalig sought Hofschneider’s support in securing the necessary legislative authorization, saying this would allow Finance to release the bonus payments to retirees.
Atalig said a path forward that they have discussed in permitting Finance, through legislative resolution, to establish a business unit for the bonus payments, would allow for the administration to utilize its existing reprogramming authority to locate and transfer general fund resources to support this payment to the retirees.
Atalig said that, based on their communication, Finance, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Settlement Fund Trustee jointly believe that this authority to establish a business unit and conduct the needed reprogramming to provide for the retirees’ bonus is the best course of action in seeing the retirees receive the support they need and can be achieved without the need for further appropriation.
Atalig said the Senate Joint Resolution 22-05 resolved this request and that they support the Senate’s proposed Senate joint resolution to increase the retirees bonus amount to $1,000.
Last Dec. 14, Torres requested the Legislature to allow reprogramming of funds for the sole purpose of funding retirees’ $500 bonuses. The following day, the Senate adopted Senate Joint Resolution 22-05, which approved Torres’ request.
Last Jan. 12, the House did not act on the Senate Joint Resolution 22-05 and, instead, unanimously passed a bipartisan legislation, House Bill 22-91, HD1, that proposes to amend the Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2022 to establish a business unit and allocate $1.3 million in local funds to pay the $500 bonus for each government retiree.
Last Feb. 3, the Senate unanimously passed their version of the bill, with amendments offered by Hofschneider to increase the bonus to $1,000.
Last Feb. 22, the House unanimously rejected the Senate’s version of the bill. Democrat representatives opposed a language in the Senate’s version that will give Torres’ 100% reprogramming authority of the budget.
All 20 representatives agreed to the creation of a conference committee that will hammer out with the Senate a mutually acceptable bill for retirees’ bonuses.