The government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says it will shut down if a budget is not passed by the beginning of the fiscal year, under a proposed constitutional amendment approved by the House of Representatives yesterday.
By a unanimous vote, the House passed a legislative initiative removing a constitutional provision that currently allows government operations to continue even though an annual budget appropriation is not enacted.
The initiative now heads to the Senate, where it must receive the approval of at least two thirds of the members.
Once it passes the Senate, the initiative will be placed on the ballot in the next election.
Proponents of the bill believe that a government shutdown provision will force the lawmakers and the governor to seriously review and enact a balanced budget on time.
The initiative provides an exemption from the shutdown for critical services such as health and safety.