30 Sep 2010

CNMI politicians scrambling to avoid shutdown over budget dispute

4:22 pm on 30 September 2010

The Northern Marianas government is on the brink of shutdown after budget talks between the Senate and the House of Representatives collapsed anew yesterday.

Both chambers continue to disagree on a number of issues on their versions of a 132 million US dollar appropriations bill, the most contentious of which is the number of work hour cuts for public servants.

The House wants a 16-hour work cut per two-week pay period and 13 unpaid holidays, while the Senate is proposing cuts of eight hours per pay period and seven unpaid holidays.

The House and Senate are scheduled to hold sessions tonight to try to pass the budget bill.

If they fail to reach an agreement by midnight, the Governor Benigno Fitial is poised to issue an emergency order on a government shutdown

A government shutdown will mean more than 1,400 workers are temporarily out of work while public services won't operate.