General

Governor heads to US

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres has left for Phoenix, Arizona where he will attend the Western Governors Association Winter Meeting on Dec. 1-2, 2017.

In a statement, the administration said the meeting allows the governors to discuss significant regional issues, including a workforce-development initiative.

The administration said the initiative “seeks to leverage best practices undertaken by western governors in order to bridge the gap between prospective workers and employers in the West. The goal will be to create enhanced career opportunities for students, graduates, and displaced workers to help build a more vibrant regional economy.”

Ralph Torres

Moreover, the administration said, the meeting will feature U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke who will deliver keynote addresses and have conversations with the governors.

“Governor Torres will continue his active engagement on best practices with his colleagues from the West in order to strengthen the ongoing policy discussions surrounding the labor and economic needs of the commonwealth,” his administration stated.

While in Arizona, Torres will also attend the Pacific Basin Development Council board meeting with the PBDC chairman, Gov. Eddie Calvo of Guam, and Executive Director Esther Kia’aina, a former Interior Department official.

The meeting will touch upon economic development in the Pacific and indigenous land ownership rights, the administration said.

“After his meetings in Arizona and in the West, he will be heading to Washington, D.C. to continue his meetings with White House and congressional officials to further underscore the need for the CW program. He will also be in discussions on a request for a reprieve of the CW reduction for FY 2018.”

According to the administration, since the announcement of the cap reduction, the governor has been working closely with his Strategic Economic Development Council, the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corporation, and the Legislature on a unified front to push legislation in Congress through U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“As the governor has mentioned on record, there is too much at stake to hold off on the issue any further. Congress’s own investigative and research arm, the Government Accountability Office concluded that if the foreign skilled laborer program no longer existed in the commonwealth, the ‘preliminary economic analysis projects a 26 to 62 percent reduction in the CNMI’s 2015 gross domestic product.’ Moreover, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the commonwealth’s real GDP increased 28.6 percent in 2016 after increasing 3.8 percent in 2015. Based on these federal agencies’ reports, the effects on the commonwealth’s economy would be catastrophic absent an amendment to U.S. P.L. 110-229 to amend and continue the CW program in the commonwealth.

“If we want the jobs we have created for local residents to remain, the economy to continue to grow, and more opportunities to arise, legislation must be pushed on the federal level through our delegate. The governor will continue to put all his effort into dealing with this issue and work with the entire community in order to reach this collective goal.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100536-governor-heads-to-us

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