AG weighs in on 2 funding measures

ATTORNEY General Edward Manibusan said the House Committee on Ways and Means should look into the possible  impact of two funding bills to ensure they don’t pose any conflicts in the future.

He was referring to House Bill 20-117 which will appropriate money from the Solid Waste Management Revolving Account to purchase a van for the elderly; and H.B. 20-120 which will appropriate funding for salary increases that were suspended during the implementation of austerity measures.

Edward Manibusan

The House Ways and Means Committee is reviewing the bills.

Manibusan said H.B. 20-117, which was introduced by Rep. Edwin Aldan, does not present a constitutional issue.

However, he said the use of the Solid Waste Management Revolving Account or SWMRA for expenditures unrelated to solid-waste management exposes the commonwealth to potential Environmental Protection Agency liability and is in conflict with the intent of SWMRA as well as federal accounting standards.

“The committee should consult closely with the Department of Public Works on the impact of the bill on DPW, the solid waste program and grant funding requirements,” the AG said.

As for H.B. 20-120, which was introduced by Vice Speaker Janet Maratita, the AG said it would provide affected employees a statutorily protected right to the retroactive payment of salary increases even without an appropriation to fund the increases.

“To prevent the commonwealth from being exposed to potentially costly litigation over the suspension of salary increases since 1999, the committee should obtain information on the fiscal impact of this bill from the Office of Personnel Management with respect to implementing the payment contemplated under H.B. 20-120,” Manibusan said.

OPM is still collecting information to determine how much it would cost the government to pay the retroactive salary increase and how many employees would benefit from the enactment of H.B. 20-120.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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