Governor to revise FY 2021 budget proposal

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres will submit to the House of Representatives a revised fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, which will reflect the impact of furloughs and the financial assistance from the federal government.

On April 1, the governor submitted his proposed FY 2021 budget with a projected gross revenue of $144,415,544. Of this amount, the net resources available for general appropriation was $70,623,458 only.

In contrast, the FY 2020 budget originally identified a total of $233.2 million in estimated revenues of which $152.9 million (including $4.1 million for the Department of Public Lands) was available for government activities.

Due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 budget, the FY 2020 budget figures had to be reduced significantly. On March 29, 2020, the governor announced a “proportionate reduction of 48% in the continuing budget authority” of all government branches.

In an interview on Monday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ivan Blanco said the furloughs, both in private and public sectors, were implemented toward the end of April so the impact of job losses was not factored in the governor’s budget submission.

Also not included in the governor’s budget submission is the impact of federal financial assistance such as the stimulus checks and the funds provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, Blanco said.

The Ways and Means Committee, he added, is now looking at the governor’s budget submission while legislative fiscal analyst Dave Demapan “goes through it,” but “we still have to wait for more information from Finance regarding the impact of furloughs and federal assistance.”

Blanco said he and other members of the committee have spoken with Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig who told them that the administration will have to update all the information and data related to the FY 2021 budget proposal.

“We expect the governor's proposed budget for FY 2021 to be resubmitted before July 1 to include the latest financial information that was not included in the original submission. Such information includes the latest business gross revenue tax projections, the fiscal impact of the 64-hour austerity, the number and fiscal impact of furloughed employees and their contributions to income tax, BGR, etc., local savings and income from the CARES Act and related federal funding sources, among others,” Blanco said.

He said he was told by the Finance secretary that the governor may resubmit the budget before July.

Ways and Means, he added, will meet next week with the legislative fiscal analyst, and soon after that, with other members of the House to discuss the new fiscal year budget proposal.

FY 2021 starts on Oct. 1, 2020.

The governor’s FY 2021 budget proposed $18.7 million for the Public School System; $153,131 for the Board of Education; $4.6 million for Northern Marianas College; $6.7 million for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.; $3.4 million for the judiciary; $619,201 for the governor’s office; $378,268 for the lt. governor’s office; $2 million for other offices under the governor and the lt. governor; $841,022 for the Department of Commerce; $1 million for the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs; $2.1 million for the Department of Corrections; $2.7 million for the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services; $3 million for the Department of Finance; $407,174 for the Department of Labor; $973,897 for the Department of Lands and Natural Resources; $3 million for the Department of Public Safety; and $1.2 million for the Department of Public Works.

For the legislative branch, the governor proposes $4 million. Of this amount, $1 million is allocated for the House members’ discretionary funds or $50,000 each; $143,000 for the House leadership account; $452,694 for the senators’ allocations or $50,000 each; and $143,722 for the Senate leadership. For the salaries of lawmakers, $864,010 was appropriated for House members, but this includes the amount to be received by House members who opted to get their retirement pensions instead of their salaries. The senators were budgeted a total of $337,065 for their salaries, but this also includes the amounts for the senators who will receive their pensions instead of their salaries.

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