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House passes bill to allot $15M casino license fee for retirees

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THE House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously passed House Bill 21-76 to re-designate the $15 million annual casino license fee for the payment of 25% of the retirees’ pensions.


Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, right background, and House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan, left, wear face- masks during Thursday’s House session.

Also wearing face-masks are House clerk Linda Muna, center seated, and information technology staffer Jon Diaz.


Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

 

The annual casino license fee was originally tapped to pay the retirees, but Public Law 20-10 designated the license fee to senatorial districts while pledging the casino gross revenue tax for the retirees.

Recently, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced that the central government could no longer afford to pay 25% of the pensions because of the lawsuit authorized by the Board of Education over the public education budget.

Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao said H.B. 21-76, which he introduced, is not new. He said there had been a couple of attempts in the previous Legislature to allot the $15 million casino license fee for the retirees. Now, he added, is the time it should happen.

His bill would also re-designate the casino gross revenue tax to three senatorial districts — $2 million each for Rota and Tinian, and $11 million for Saipan. Of the amount for Saipan, $9.5 million would go to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation and $1.5 million would be for the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance program.

The remaining balance, if there’s any, “shall be appropriated to subsidize the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. customers’ fuel adjustment charge, medical referral assistance, land compensation, the Public School System, Northern Marianas College and the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.”

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