Guam - A financial crisis or election politics? That's the debate between two lawmakers over the Government of Guam's multimillion dollar shortfall. Senator Eddie Calvo, who is running for governor, has asked the Camacho-Cruz Administration to immediately address what he says is a budget-busting $61.3 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.
The Republican lawmaker contends the government has raised the expectations of public sector workers, but will only let them down in the end. "We hear about police not being able to get their third increment in pay; we here about DOE not getting their $10 million, and what that may mean for whether we can open school on time these are critical issues. And I'm not trying to pick a fight with anybody, I'm not trying to say the sky is falling, but obviously there are some major financial issues that have got to be brought to the open and the Administration has to work towards coming to a resolution."
But Senator Ben Pangelinan, who is running for a seat in the 31st Guam Legislature, contends his colleague's claims of a financial crisis are nothing more than election politics. The Democrat lawmaker says during the last Special Economic Service meeting, projected collections were pegged at $602 million and expenditures are only $500 million, which he contends leaves a sizable remainder available for tax refunds. Senator Pangelinan declined an on-camera interview.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Dr. Mike Cruz, who is also running for governor, says the Administration has been working with Senator Pangelinan and the fiscal policy team to make the cuts necessary to get through the fiscal year. "Unfortunately, with some of the operational costs, it means that certain types of travel are going to be forgoed [sic]. Any other equipment purchases that we otherwise we would have to have gotten. All these types of budgetary constraints or these issues are being looked at in the government as a whole."
At the beginning of the month BBMR pegged the budget shortfall at $36 million.