28 Sep 2010

CNMI meeting on budget bill ends with Senators walking out

9:42 am on 28 September 2010

A conference meeting yesterday to try and reach a resolution over the Northern Marianas budget bill broke down after Senators walked out.

The 132 million US dollar budget bill needs to be settled before this Friday, otherwise it will effectively shutdown the government.

Senators left the meeting accusing House members of playing politics when they veered away from discussing the contentious work hour cuts plan.

However, House member, for their part, asked why their Senate counterparts are fearful of discussing the Rota and Tinian budget first before going back to the work hour cuts.

The Governor has issued a memorandum listing all essential service employee positions that will be exempt from a government shutdown if the budget bill is not passed.

Governor Beningo Fitial's listed as exempted employees that deliver essential services related to public health, safety, and welfare.

Also exempted are programs fully funded by the federal government and those with no impact on general fund resources.

The governor's list does not exempt the governor, lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the 29 lawmakers, judges and justices-at least at this time.

Governor Fitial exempted from a shutdown the entire Commonwealth Ports Authority, the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, and the Public School System.