SAIPAN – The central government will have to identify a funding source for the proposed restoration of the group health and life insurance and defined contribution plan for the employees of the legislative and judicial branches, Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said on Friday.
The Legislature proposed $692,092 for the employer defined contribution plan and $5.2 million for the group health and life insurance for the legislative and judicial branches employees in the fiscal year 2020 budget, but Gov. Ralph DLG Torres vetoed the provision saying that the legislative and judicial branches must “account for these expenses within their own respective budgets.”
CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro Castro told House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ivan Blanco that if these funds are not provided, there will be a “significant error” in the projected personnel costs of the judiciary in FY 2020.
The judiciary has 54 active health insurance members, the annual cost for whom is $515,459; and 28 defined-contribution-covered employees, at a yearly cost of $48,443.
In an interview on Friday, Atalig said the administration supports the restoration of the group health and life insurance, and DC plan appropriation in FY2020 budget.
But he said there was “miscommunication” during the budget preparation, adding that the Office of Management and Budget is now trying to identify a funding source.
In separate interviews, House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan and Rep. Ivan Blanco said they are working to amend the budget law to restore funding for the group health and life insurance and DC plan of the judiciary and Legislature.
Sablan said they need to address the issues as soon as possible.
Blanco will author the proposed amendment to the budget.