The $100.9 million proposed FY 2021 budget bill passed the Senate in its 3rd reading and moved on to the House. The bill appropriates $9 million to fund the CROSS Act, a local Covid relief program aimed at helping employees and businesses impacted by the pandemic.

A call for applications from employees who were laid off or let go by companies due to COVID impact has been issued by the Ministry of Finance. Minister Kaleb Udui Jr. also reported that they are now working on the labor placement aspect of the Act and will be helping to place people who lost jobs as a result of COVID.

The CROSS Act is currently in effect until March 31st, and the FY 2021 budget currently in the House proposes to extend it to September 30, 2021.

The $100.9 million budget bill left the Senate with minimal changes. It continued funding for private schools and did not contain any one-time project expenditure items. State block grants are reduced across the board by $50K compared to FY 2020 budget.

It contained Lifeline subsidy for PPUC, Pension Plan subsidy and Social Security Supplemental Benefit subsidy.

The bill still has to go through three readings in the House, and it remains to be seen if the House will make any substantial changes.

“There is no question that 2020 was a bad year and 2021 will be a bad fiscal year as well. It will not be a year for growth but it can certainly be a year for improvement. It can be a year in which we improve services and outcomes while maintaining a steady level of expenditures,” conveyed President Whipps in his transmittal to Olbiil Era Kelulau.

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