Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 19 Sep 2019 12am







    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-3:34:42A.M.






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Hocog: Senate to ‘shut down’ in August, September

THE Senate will be closed in August and September, Senate President Victor B. Hocog informed Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Friday.

Following the governor’s announcement of a $29.9 million or 11.6 percent cut in the fiscal year 2019 budget, members of the House of Representatives started implementing austerity measures, including laying off employees, cutting their work hours and suspending funeral service assistance.

Victor Hocog

Last week, senators met with Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky Villagomez to discuss their budget cuts.

In his letter to the governor on Friday, Hocog said: “In light of immense and profound circumstances in which the saga of pain and suffering emanated from the harsh proportionate allotment reduction to the Senate member’s allocation account, the Senate office will be closed down for the months of August and September.”

This decision, he added, is based on analysis by the legislature’s fiscal analyst, David S. Demapan, who concluded that the Senate operational funds would be totally depleted by June.

Hocog said from April to September, each Senate members’ monthly allotment will be down to $2,950 from $7,500 prior to the budget cuts.

By the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2019, Hocog said each member will receive only $62,700 of the $90,000 originally appropriated in the FY 2019 budget. This is a 30.3 percent cut that will make the senators offices’ “inoperable,” he added.

“The senators would have to make drastic and unbearable decisions such as to release most of their staff, return all vehicles and arrange payment plans on their outstanding invoices and services,” Hocog said.

He is asking the administration to restore the $2,752 cut in each member’s allotment in May, and to allow the senators to draw down their $7,500 allotments for June and July.

But for August and September, Hocog said, there would be “zero allotments because of no operation from the Senate office.”

Variety learned that the Senate also plans to pass the FY 2020 budget bill in July. The bill is still pending in the House.

Failure to pass a new balanced budget for FY 2020 before Oct. 1, 2019 will result in a partial government shutdown.