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Rep. Blanco: New budget will be passed before end of FY 2020

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WITH only two weeks left in the current fiscal year, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ivan Blanco is confident that a new budget will be enacted before Oct. 1, 2020, the first day of FY 2021.

The budget bill is still with the Senate, which usually passes its own version. This will require convening a bicameral conference committee to come up with a budget that is acceptable to both chambers. The administration, for its part, is hoping to be given adequate time to review the budget before the governor acts on it.

Blanco said no one in the Legislature wants a  partial government shutdown so the House and the Senate are willing to settle their differences.

He noted that there are more commonalities than differences between the House and the Senate versions of the budget bill.

The Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee, Variety was told, is now wrapping up the Senate version of the FY 2021 budget following a budget hearing on Tinian last week.

“I’m confident that the senators are working on it and they can get it back to us within this month,” Blanco said. “The House is happy to sit down and work with them.”

He added,  “Most likely there will be a conference committee. We always expect that to happen, but we also want to ensure that the new fiscal year budget goes to the governor before Oct. 1.”

As Ways and Means chairman, Blanco introduced House Bill 21-124, which proposes to appropriate $82.6 million for FY 2021.

The FY 2020 budget originally appropriated $152.9 million for the CNMI government, including $4.1 million for the Department of Public Lands.

As for the FY 2021 budget bill, it suspends statutorily earmarked funds and imposes significant pay cuts on cabinet members.

The governor submitted his FY 2021 budget proposal to the Legislature on April 1, 2020. Three months later, the administration submitted  a revised version of its proposed budget to reflect the furloughs, terminations and transfers that were implemented in April.

 

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