1 Oct 2010

CNMI House of Representatives accused of blackmail

4:41 pm on 1 October 2010

The floor leader of the Northern Marianas' Senate says the House of Representatives' unwillingness to negotiate is responsible for a shutdown of government services that's stopped the salaries of hundreds of public servants.

Before the legislature failed to pass a balanced budget by last night's deadline, the Governor declared a state of emergency giving him the power to determine and operate the government's essential services under the constitution.

The dispute between the House and the Senate centres on a number of issues on their versions of a 132 million US dollar appropriations bill, the most contentious of which is the number of cuts to work hours for public servants.

But Pete Reyes says the Senate is willing to compromise on that and other issues.

"What I call it is outright blackmail on the part of the House of Representatives to force the issue of casino which twice has been defeated by the public, by the population of Saipan and twice rejected by the Senate."

Pete Reyes is calling on the affected public servants to march on Capitol Hill and express their position.