SAIPAN, 24 FEBRUARY 2020 (MARIANAS VARIETY) — As part of the CNMI government’s across-the-board budget cuts, the judiciary will reduce the work hours and compensation of its employees by 20 percent starting 15 March, 2020.

The Legislative Bureau, for its part, has reduced its work hours to 64 from 80.

In the 30-day notice to a judiciary employee dated 18 February, CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro Castro stated that the pay cut is allowed by the employee’s conditions of employment.

But the notice also stated that the employee has the right to “refuse in writing the reduction and discontinue working for the Judiciary.”

Based on judiciary personnel rules, moreover, the change of work hours and compensation is not subject to grievance procedures, the notice added.

“Generally, your adjusted schedule will be a regular workday from Monday to Thursday, and austerity day will be taken on the designated Friday(s),” the notice stated.

“Additional austerity measures may be implemented based on the availability of funds, reduction in the allotment authority, legislative enactments or changed circumstances,” the notice stated.

The judiciary’s 2020 fiscal year budget, which was originally US$5.66 million, has been reduced to US$4 million.

The Legislative Bureau has reduced its work hours to 64 from 80 in response to the implementation of the central government’s austerity measures.

On 07 February, the governor, citing a drastic decline in revenue projections, issued a directive for a 28.3 percent across-the-board government spending cut.

In his 14-day notice to employees, LB Director Tony P. Sablan said the work schedule for the bureau will be cut by 16 hours per pay period or from 80 hours to 64 hours, to be applied every Friday. This will take effect on 15 March.

He said the duration of this reduction will be subject to availability of funds or until the governor lifts the austerity measures.

Based the budget adjustment recommendations from the Office of Management and Budget, the Legislative Bureau’s budget will be reduced to US$1,355,599 from US$1,891,559. The Youth Congress’ budget has been trimmed from US$64,080 to US$45,923.

Last week, OMB provided lawmakers a copy of the adjustments in the allotments for their salaries, allocations, and leadership accounts.

From US$385,996, the budget for the senators’ salaries is now US$276,627, which means that each senator’s annual salary went down from US$42,000 to US$30,736. The senators’ office allocations were also reduced by 19.1 percent: from US$945,000 these were pared down to $763,780 while funding for the Senate leadership, which was set at US$300,000, is now down to US$242,470.

From US$770,031, the budget for the House members’ salary has been adjusted to US$551,848 or US$27,500 annually or US$12.98 an hour for each member.

Lawmakers interviewed by this reporter stated that they will get rid of their leased cars and reduce fuel purchases as well as operations costs……PACNEWS