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At least $88.9M sought for territories in fed budget

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) and his counterparts from Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands asked President Barack Obama to include “no less than $88.9 million” in “assistance to territories” program funding as the president prepares to submit to U.S. Congress his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs received only $85.976 million in “assistance to territories” funding, of which more than 90 percent has been awarded to the insular areas in the form of grants.

Sablan took the lead in writing a Feb. 10, 2014, letter to Obama for the fiscal year 2015 budget request, a copy of which was obtained by Saipan Tribune yesterday.

Press secretary Angel Demapan, when sought for comment yesterday, said, “In principle, the governor supports this request.” But the administration has not seen a copy of this request yet.

Also signing the two-page letter to Obama were Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo, U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate Donna M. Christensen, and American Samoa Delegate Eni F.H. Faleomavaega.

“We are writing to request you prioritize the Assistance to Territories program in your fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for the Office of Insular Affairs of the Department of [the] Interior by including no less than $88.9 million, which reflects [fiscal year] 2013 enacted level,” the delegates told the president.

OIA carries out the responsibility of the Interior secretary for U.S. insular areas.



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