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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-3:38:39P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Hiring of 84 additional government employees doesn’t require Legislature’s OK

THE hiring of 84 additional government employees who will be paid from funds “outside of the general funds” does not require legislative approval, Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao and House Ways and Means Chairman Ivan Blanco said on Tuesday.

The House leadership met on Monday morning to discuss, among other things, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’s request “to entertain legislation to provide additional [number of positions or] NOPs for [fiscal year] 2020 in an effort to address personnel needs of major departments and agencies under the executive branch.”

In separate interviews on Tuesday, Attao and Blanco said if the funds for the 84 additional NOPs will come from sources outside of the general fund, then it doesn’t require legislation.

“The governor’s Nov. 26 letter itself states that those positions will not be funded from the general appropriations. Therefore, those will be temporary positions that are not affected by the general [fund] appropriation,” Attao said.

“It is outside the purview of the Legislature to make additional NOPs…not affecting the general fund,” he added.

Blanco, for his part, noted that the governor’s letter itself emphasized that the request for additional NOPs will not require general fund appropriation.

“We appreciate that he shared that with us so if it’s outside of the general fund appropriation then, that is where our job ends,” Blanco said.

He said they will amend FY 2020 budget measure or Public Law 21-8, but only to restore the funds for the group health and life insurance and defined contribution plan of the judicial and legislative branch employees.

In his letter to Speaker Attao and Senate President Victor B. Hocog, the governor said the funding for the 84 NOPs he wants to hire will be H.R. 21-57 or the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Relief for FY 2019, which will provide competitive grants in the amount of $17.2 billion for five major disasters within the U.S.; the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief program under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the $2 million in technical assistance program that the Office of Insular Affairs-U.S. Department of the Interior recently awarded the CNMI.