SAIPAN — Citing the CNMI Constitution's funding cap on the Legislature's budget, Gov. Ralph Torres on Tuesday revised his allotments of American Rescue Plan Act funds for the Legislature.
In his budget submission on April 1, the governor also informed lawmakers that he will allocate a total of $122,563,298 in ARPA moneys for CNMI government personnel and operations in fiscal year 2022, which starts on Oct. 1, 2021.
Of this amount, the governor said $3 million would be allotted for House members, $1.35 million for senators and $581,672 for the Legislative Bureau.
In his revised fiscal 2022 budget submission on April 27, the governor told Speaker Edmund Villagomez and Senate President Jude Hofschneider that he was adjusting the ARPA allocations for the Legislature.
The ARPA funds allotted for House members, senators and the Legislative Bureau are now $1.2 million, $540,000 and $65,237, respectively.
But under the governor's proposed fiscal 2022 budget funded by local revenue, House members were allotted $1.8 million; the senators, $810,000; and the LB, $1.93 million.
The ARPA funding for the Commonwealth Casino Commission remains $1,089 and the local revenue allotment for CCC is still $1.
The commission, which is hoping to get over $3 million in ARPA funds, is supposed to be funded by the annual $3 million regulatory fee that the lone casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International, can no longer afford to pay.
As for the CNMI Cannabis Commission, it will get a total of $235,108 in ARPA funds.
Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky Villagomez presented the governor's revised submission to lawmakers during a House Committee on Ways and Means meeting.
According to the governor, Article 2, Section 16 of the CNMI Constitution sets a cap on the budget of the Legislature. He said it was necessary to amend the provisions allocated from ARPA funding "as it exceeded the constitutional mandates when combined with the general fund allocation."
In his revised submission, the governor increased the ARPA funding for medical referrals to $13.1 million from $10 million, and transferred to the Department of Lands and Natural Resources the $1.3 million he earlier allotted to the Department of Public Lands.
The governor told the speaker and the Senate president that additional changes to the budget for fiscal 2022 will be communicated promptly as they are identified and necessary.