Congress Committees hold state hearings on sector fund transition

PALIKIR, POHNPEI.  May 7, 2014 - The Congressional Committee on Health and Social Affairs and the Committee on Education recently concluded a visit to the states to address the transition of the national government’s portion of the amended Compact sector funds to the state governments and review the states’ plans for the funds.
On April 25, the Committees began a series of public hearings in the State of Kosrae where they met with the Departments of Health and Education, along with corresponding offices and agencies to review the state’s progress in the two sectors and its plans for the additional funding.  As part of the hearings, the Committees visited the state hospitals and the public schools where various issues were raised by the states among which, included under the Education Sector was that of School Accreditation and Teacher Certification both of which have had significant impact on the education system in the states.
The public hearings also allowed the Committees to gauge the effectiveness of parallel activities in the health and education sectors at both state and national levels.  The hearings confirmed the Committees’ belief that the fundamental functions of the sectors are undertaken by the states and should be with the states.  Duplication of work and annual decrements of sector funds were among the factors for the decision by the FSM Congress to give all its share of compact funds to the states.     
The Committees concluded their public hearings in the State of Yap on May 6th would report its findings to the Congress during its upcoming Regular Session scheduled to convene on May 12, 2014. 
Last year the FSM Congress initiated the gradual transfer of the national governments’ portion of the amended compact funding to the state governments and through Public Law 18-12 gave up half of its National share of over $8 million  to the state governments beginning in Fiscal Year 2014 or October 2013. 
During its recent Special Session in March, Congress relinquished the national government’s remaining share of compact sector funds to the states through Public Law 18-57 which goes into effect Fiscal Year 2015.  
Along the lines of streamlining, Congress adopted Congressional Resolution 18-23 and called for the President to re-classify as state employees those national government employees paid by the amended compact sector grants and transfer them accordingly.  
While Congress gave all the National Government’s share of sector funds to the states, it maintained its share of the Supplemental Educational Grant under the compact funds for the College of Micronesia.