Pass the FY 2022 budget ASAP

THE House and the Senate have passed their versions of the FY 2022 budget measure as early as they could. Bravo. With less than a month left in the current fiscal year, they must now convene a conference committee and come up with a compromise bill. The House speaker — one of the most level-headed lawmakers on the hill — is hoping to wrap things up in the next 10 days or so to give the governor ample time to review the measure. We agree. And we believe it can be done, especially if the conferees would remind themselves that at stake are the paychecks of many ordinary government employees. Without a new and balanced budget on Oct. 1st., there will be a partial government shutdown.

As for the other budgetary (that is, political) issues that are likely to be contentious — they can be tackled separately. But right now, the conferees must keep their eyes on the proverbial ball, and do no (further) harm. Pass the budget bill on time. Don’t sacrifice the livelihood of ordinary citizens on the altar of your “principles” (political interests). Those can wait.

  

Politics and the balance sheet

ONE of the supporters of a candidate for office praised her ability to “understand a balance sheet.”  But the government has employed countless financial analysts, financial managers, accountants, auditors, etc. “since ever since.” Clearly,  a balance sheet is no longer just a balance sheet when seen through the lens of politics. With or without a balance sheet a politician who wants to remain in office has to ask the following questions: Can I fund this instead of that? Whose toes will I step on? Will it please a majority of voters? Will it help me in an election year?

Ask yourself. Have you heard any candidate for office promise to stick to a balance sheet and cut the costs of government by specifying the redundant/duplicative offices/agencies/programs/services s/he intends to abolish or downsize, and the number and names of government employees who will lose their jobs if s/he fulfills his/her election promise?

No?

What we will most likely hear in each election year are more politicians promising rainbow belching unicorns for everyone.

  

Let’s spell it out again

BEFORE acting on it, the Saipan legislative delegation should have referred the e-gaming license-fee hike measure to a committee which should have conducted public hearings and solicited comments from the affected businesses and other stakeholders.

But the bill is now law, and now lawmakers are asking questions and raising concerns that should have been asked and raised before they passed the legislation.

Now they are learning that their “revenue-raising” measure will result in business shutdowns and job losses involving 70 local workers. In other words, because of the fee-hike law, this bloated and overspending government will end up losing revenue.

Happily, we believe that most of the delegation members — if not almost all of them — would not want to see 70 residents lose their jobs especially in this economy.

So lawmakers, please sit down with the e-gaming operators, bring in the financial analysts and lawyers, and draft a new bill that will actually provide additional revenue to the government without inflicting hardship on the working people.

Editor

Zaldy Dandan is the recipient of the Best Editorial Writer Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the CNMI Humanities Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. His three books are available on amazon.com

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