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Summit: Reduce size of Legislature

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ONE of the proposals to cut spending discussed during the online CNMI Fiscal Response Summit in April was the reduction in the size of the Legislature — from 20 to 10 House seats, and from nine to six senators.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in his closing remarks, said many of the options identified for implementation would be painful, adding that no governor wants to furlough  public servants. However, he said, the government must live within its means and honestly acknowledge financial challenges.

According to a report on the summit proceedings, by eliminating 13 legislators the government will save $1.1 million including the $50,000 per year representation allowance. Other savings would be made in the subsequent reduction of legislative support staff.

The CNMI Constitution provides for equal representation of each chartered municipalities in each house of the bicameral Legislature. To achieve this, the Constitution states that the House shall consist of at least 14 members — 12 from Saipan and one each from Rota and Tinian.

The summit report said that reducing the number of House members to 14 would save the government $500,000 a year.

Convened by the governor in collaboration with Graduate School, USA, the five-day online summit  involved officials of the executive branch, members of the legislative and judicial branches and representatives from the business community and non-government organizations.

They discussed, among other things, the fiscal position of the CNMI, specifically the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and government revenue of the Commonwealth.

 

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