Finance transfers $1.3 million to PSS to cover last two pay periods

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(Office of the Governor) — Secretary of Finance David DLG Atalig announced on Thursday that $1.3 million has been transferred to the Public School System on Wednesday to cover the last two pay periods.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said despite the shortage of funds, he worked with the Department of Finance to leverage existing local resources to cover PSS salaries.

“I know it has been very difficult with our overall CNMI budget shortfall because of Covid-19, but I have been working with Secretary Atalig on a transfer of funds to pay for PSS salaries as best we can, especially for our teachers. Despite the ongoing disagreements with certain members on the Board of Education, we recently transferred $500,000 to cover the remaining 30% of pay period #8 and $1.3 million to cover their last two pay periods,” said Governor Torres.

“While the disagreements with the Board of Education have been contentious about funding PSS at a time when our overall budget has drastically gone down, Lt. Governor Palacios and I have always thought about our teachers. We never made the disagreements about them. This is about curtailing administrative and operational costs within the central PSS administration and working together on ensuring a viable funding stream in the long run,” added Governor Torres.

Secretary Atalig noted that the administration remains willing to work with all members of the Board of Education on solutions moving forward as agreed to last January before the pandemic.

“We continue to work with BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio and Vice Chairman Herman Atalig on ways to keep PSS funded appropriately. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world hard, especially here in the Marianas where our budget is at an unprecedented low level that has affected every employee and every agency. Working together is what will get us through this,” said Secretary Atalig.

“I must reiterate that as a result of reduced revenues, the administration has met and exceeded its constitutional mandate to provide PSS with 25% of general revenues. All monies being transferred at this point are well in excess of the 25% mandate and sheds light on the need for PSS to revisit its personnel budget to ensure that it is fiscally prudent and realistic,” he added.

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