House passes bill to fund retiree bonuses | News
THE House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed Bill 22-91 that would fund the $1.3 million bonus for CNMI government retirees.
All 20 members present voted yes to Representative Donald Manglona’s HB 22-91 after it was amended to include the $13,000 for the costs of the Office of the Public Auditor.
He said the bill, which is now going to the Senate, would ensure that “we will not put our government at risk of violating the rules of the American Rescue Plan Act.”
He said they realize and recognize all the hard work all retirees “have put into improving the lives of our people and our Commonwealth. We wanted to reward that by doing it in a fiscally responsible way.”
On December 15, 2021, the Republican-led Senate passed Joint Senate Resolution 22-5 which seeks to approve Republican Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ request to reprogram $1.3 million from the general fund for the payment of a $500 vacation bonus for each retiree. .
But the Democratic-led House did not act on the joint resolution and instead demanded more information from the administration about the source of funding.
Manglona echoed Vice President Benjamin Jonathan Attao’s concern that “the lack of a funding source and failure to clearly identify which business unit [in the fiscal year 2022 budget] will be affected, we cannot allow this reprogramming of funds from our local resources and use ARPA or any other federal resources to fill these accounts.
“We all know that payments to pension funds are not allowed under ARPA rules and guidelines,” Manglona said.
Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said “we are not increasing or reducing the current budget level. In addition, funds from this retiree bonus will use budget allocations from the Governor’s Office and the Department of Finance, not from any other program.
HB 22-91 proposes to amend Public Law 22-8, or the government’s fiscal year 2022 budget, to reallocate funds vetoed by the governor:
• Section 703(d)(1)(A) which would require the Secretary of Finance to set aside $39,052 for the period of double deduction that may be owed to a former member of the House;
• Section 704(c) which would require the Office of Planning and Development to use $50,500 of its funds for a feasibility study on the casino gaming industry;
• $156,550 for Micronesian legal services;
• $66,660 in discretionary funds for the office of the governor; and
• $858,006 for the Marianas Visitors Authority.
The House also unanimously passed Joint House Resolution 22-12 “to strongly encourage and endorse” a new Local Economic Impact Payment of direct and accelerated financial assistance to qualified households, and the expansion of the eligibility for premium pay for essential government and private workers. sector.
Drafted by Rep. Tina Sablan, the joint resolution calls for a local stimulus payment of $500 per eligible adult and $500 per qualified dependent.