February 02, 2006

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

Pohnpei Gov. Johnny David delivered his State of the State message to conclude the state legislative session Friday Jan. 27, emphasizing early in his speech the need to resolve the financial problems and status of the Pohnpei Fisheries Corporation (PFC) and the need to pursue the purchase of a travel vessel to replace the malfunctioning Micro Glory.

Real need, however, appears to also exist in the state's schools, suggested via several statistics the governor provided before the standing-room only crowd in the Pohnpei legislative chambers. For example, of 501 high school seniors taking the College of Micronesia-FSM entrance test, he reported, only 164, or 33 percent, passed. This is a decrease, he said, from a 79 percent passage rate just last year.

David also reported an approximate 20 percent absentee rate among schools. David touched on an array of other topics pertinent to the state as well, among them development of tourism policy, streamlining of economic development and financial matters.

"The state of financial record keeping in the component units of state government has been a problem and needs resolution," he said. Further, the governor cited the need to address Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violations. "EPA violation cases submitted to court have never been disposed," he said in his prepared remarks. "This has led to the impression that there is no penalty for violating EPA rules and regulations."

David also applauded the state for its accomplishments, including the paving of the circumferential road and early completion of its audits. He complimented the state "in terms of efficiency in the management of the documentation of the use of funds."

Pohnpei Supreme Court Chief Justice Judah Johnny delivered a "state judiciary message" shortly after David's speech in which he reported, among other things, financial miscalculations that prevented the court from making full use of their allocated travel allowance.

Johnny addressed the need to update written documentation of the state's public laws. "This is an important concern because it is possible that we might apply a law that has been repealed or amended," he remarked. "We see a great need to complete the codification of our laws."

He also detailed the court's activities. State Supreme Court justices handled 3,505 cases in 2005 he reported. Among them, 1,210 were criminal cases, 1,118 were traffic, 960 were civil and the rest were juvenile, appeals or "miscellaneous." Two cases involved homicide.

Both speeches were given in Pohnpeian and translated to English via prepared statements. The state's budget for fiscal year 2006 is $35,124,088.