Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 20 Feb 2019 12am







    Tuesday, February 19, 2019-2:18:26P.M.






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BOE: Legislature has until July 31 to file certified question

THE Board of Education on Wednesday said the Legislature has until July 31 to file, with the BOE, a certified question in the CNMI Supreme Court regarding the annual budget of the Public School System.

The board wants the high court to clarify what constitutes government “general funds” in light of the CNMI constitutional mandate that PSS “shall be guaranteed an annual budget of not less than 25 percent of the general revenues of the Commonwealth through an annual appropriation.”

BOE/PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu said the board can either file a certified question or sue the CNMI government. “It is up to you,” he told the board members.

According to the CNMI Constitution, “Whenever a dispute arises between or among Commonwealth officials who are elected by the people or appointed by the governor regarding the exercise of their powers or responsibilities under this Constitution or any statute, the parties to the dispute may certify to the Supreme Court the legal question raised, setting forth the stipulated facts upon which the dispute arises.”

A lawmaker or lawmakers can join the BOE in filing the certified question. But BOE member Herman T. Guerrero earlier said that none of the lawmakers were willing to take the opposite position.

“A lawsuit is different from a certified question,” Mocanu told the BOE members. “We are filing it against the CNMI government, the governor and the members of the Legislature saying ‘You owe us money.’ ”

On Wednesday, Guerrero said Speaker Ralph Demapan had agreed to introduce a House resolution regarding the certified question.

Guerrero said “if there is still no movement on the part of the Legislature by July 31, the lawsuit against the government will be filed.”

He said delaying the filing of either a certified question or a lawsuit will not solve anything and is just compounding the problem.

“We need to move forward,” he added. “It is not a question of good or bad. It is a question of resolving, once and for all, what exactly  PSS is entitled to. We need to have clear guidance from the court. This is  not something that makes anyone a bad person. We have been talking about this issue for a number of years now. Let the court decide it once and for all.”