Kilili: President’s OIA budget falls short

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(Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 spending request for the Office of Insular Affairs, released Monday last week, cuts the agency’s discretionary budget from $103 million to $82 million, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said.

“I convened the House Committee on Natural Resources for our annual OIA budget oversight hearing the next day, and OIA officials, though invited, declined to defend the President’s cuts in person,” Kilili said.

“Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr., and Marianas Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios were on hand, however, to tell the committee what their funding priorities are. We will use the governor’s input, when we advise the House Appropriations Committee on allocating funds — and keeping OIA at last year’s $103 million level,” Kilili added.

“The President proposed cuts for environmental protection programs, like the coral reef initiative and brown tree snake interdiction. He also wants to cut funding to reduce electricity costs in the insular areas and zero-out special compact impact monies. The governors thanked Congress for the substantial increase in Medicaid funding we provided for them in the FY20 appropriation law and for disaster recovery funds Congress has made available to all the insular areas.”

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