NMTI CEO requests changes to CW fund bill

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NORTHERN Marianas Trades Institute chief executive officer Agnes McPhetres on Friday provided testimony and submitted written comments to the Senate regarding House Bill 21-91.

Agnes McPhetres

The measure proposes to create a Commonwealth Worker Fee Revolving Fund and to designate the secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor as the expenditure authority.

McPhetres said NMTI supports the intent of the bill, but requests some changes so as to “improve accountability and accessibility related to the allocation of CW funding.”

Referring to the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 she said: “We urge you, under section two of the bill, that the following be addressed so that ongoing training — such as our training at NMTI — will not be suspended or discontinued due to the untimely allotment of funds. The bill should identify eligible recipients of the CW funds with priority of funding being assigned to recipients in compliance with the intent of the U.S. Public Law 115-218.”

McPhetres pointed out that NMTI received only 25 percent of the CW funds during a previous fiscal year, and this nearly caused the closure of the program.

She added that the bill should also state that the quarterly allotment will be made no later than the first day of each quarter, noting that NMTI has “been having problems in this area.”

In addition, McPhetres said the bill should state that the required report guidelines must be established by the secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor for all recipients of CW funding, and that all recipients of such funds must adhere to the same reporting standard, so that the governor’s plan is consistent on all fronts.

Senate President Victor B. Hocog said McPhetres’ comments “will go to the appropriate committee for further review and action.”

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