Administration submits $82.6M revised budget for FY 2021

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LIEUTENANT Gov. Arnold I. Palacios on Wednesday submitted to the Legislature a revised fiscal year 2021 budget in the amount of $82,656,813 after suspending “certain earmarks.”

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ initial FY 2021 budget submission in April was $70,623,458.

The projected revenue for the next fiscal year remains $144.4 million as earlier reported by Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig.

Palacios said the revised budget proposal includes payment of 75% of the retirees’ pension; 25% for the Public School System; a 64-hour work week for all employees retained with the exception of  those with constitutionally mandated salaries; $7.2 million to fund the transfer of the Medical Referral Program to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.; $1 million for Northern Marianas College; and $400,000 for Latte Academy.

No funding was allotted for non-profit organizations.

The proposed revised budget also excludes expenditures to be absorbed by sources outside the general fund, such as leases from public lands, and transfer of eligible expenditures into non-general fund sources amounting to $4.5 million and $2.6 million respectively.

Palacios said the $82.6 million is an amount equal to resources available for general appropriations and represents a balanced budget.

The projected revenue of the CNMI government in FY 2020 was $233 million of which $148.8 million was made available for general appropriation. But due to the severe economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres submitted a revised budget that reflected  a 48% reduction.

Under the revised FY 2021 budget proposal, Palacios said, “We proposed the suspension of certain earmarks, their return to the general fund and redistribution by first satisfying the 25% for PSS pursuant to the constitutional mandate… reaffirmed by the most recent opinion issued by the Commonwealth Supreme Court.”

Starting in April, Palacios said the Office of Management and Budget met with departments and agencies including the judiciary, to validate the furloughs, terminations and transfers that were done prior to April 1 and 90 days thereafter, to determine the net result of the changes and to restore government operations from a 20-hour work week to a 32-hour work week.

“This revised budget formulation has been challenging due to limited resources,” Palacios added.

“Minimal allocation for the delivery of basic public services was considered, but was extremely difficult,” he said.


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