The Northern Marianas House of Representatives has passed a contentious austerity bill that will cut government work hours from the regular 80 to 70 hours per pay period.
The Saipan Tribune reports that the measure is expected to reduce government costs by more than 4.55 million US dollars for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2010.
Supporters of the bill say they would rather see work hours cut than lay off workers to address the government's revised projected revenue from 150 million dollars to 137 million dollars.
But those who opposed the bill, led by House Minority Leader Diego Benavente and most Republicans, say the measure will not help solve the government's financial crisis but worsen it.
The bill now goes to the nine-member Senate.