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Senate eyes ‘revolving funds’

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THE Senate may allow certain departments to tap their “revolving funds”  to accommodate the funding requests of other agencies, Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider said.

In an interview on Monday, he said the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, for example, has its own revolving funds, but is asking for more from the general funds.

“We are looking into those revolving funds because a lot of other entities are just getting funds directly from the general funds and have no  revolving funds,” he added.

By allowing DFEMS and other departments with revolving funds to utilize their revolving funds, Hofschneider said between $8 million and $10 million can be “freed” to accommodate other agencies that are in dire need of funds.

“Our main objective is to seriously look at the concerns raised by  CNMI Medicaid,” the chairman of the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee said.

CNMI Medicaid Director Helen C. Sablan earlier told the Senate that the local Medicaid program could forfeit “millions of dollars” in federal funds if the Commonwealth government fails to provide the required local matching funds.

Hofschneider at the same time said the Senate will come up with a fiscal year 2021 budget bill that is “potentially acceptable” to the House and the administration.

He said the Fiscal Affairs Committee is now finalizing a draft of the Senate version of the FY 2021 appropriation measure or House Bill 21-124.

Hofschneider said his committee is also paying “careful attention” to the suspension of earmark funds as recommended by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.

“We are carefully working because there are requests for more funding,” the senator said, adding that they had to look for funding sources “other than what is available from the general fund.”

So, he added, “we are looking at the revolving funds and the earmarked funds. All hands are on deck right now.”

H.B. 21-124, as passed by the House, proposes $82,656,813 for FY 2021, which begins on Oct. 1.

The government has to enact a new balanced budget by Oct. 1 to avoid a partial shutdown.

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