Keeping Our Eyes on the Future, Despite the Challenges
By Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Thank you so much for this opportunity to serve you. My first week in office has been a humbling and busy experience. Lt. Governor Tenorio and I took our oaths, and we got straight to work. One thing became clear on our first day: the future is bright, but the challenges are many.
We're in a seminal period in our history. On one hand, there is the promise of rapid economic growth that can mean a better life for you and your family. On the other hand, this government is struggling with its bills every day. That means there's a real threat to working families, who are just getting by. If we don't fix the fiscal problems so that we can have more resources for public schools, public healthcare and real reform, then those less fortunate will fall further behind as the buildup goes on.
Ray and I won't let that happen. We have our eyes on the future, and our hands on the wheel.
In the coming days, I will be issuing orders to control runaway government spending. Ray and I will be restoring fiscal discipline. If you have to make sacrifices and cut costs when times are tough, then your government should do the same. As a matter of fact, it should set the example. Non-critical spending and further obligations of cash all will come to a halt, except for necessary reasons. But this isn't just a band-aid solution. This will be the first in a series of steps to fix the systemic financial problems and the structural imbalance of your General Fund. Yes, it is your General Fund, because it is your hard-earned tax dollars that pay to run this government. Your leaders must treat it with respect, because you've trusted us with your money.
To these ends, I will be ordering all agency heads to identify ways to contain costs, and to bring in more money to the government. These measures will be reported to me within a month, and implemented shortly after. I am holding my Cabinet fully accountable to make this happen. We expect innovative ideas from these very talented men and women we've appointed. They share our passion to serve you, and our vision to change government and to change Guam.
An immediate concern we have is the state of the Guam Memorial Hospital. I will do whatever it takes within my Organic authority to ensure that when you or your loved one go to GMH, you are safe, you are cared for, and you are served. We will be working with the hospital board and the legislative health chairman to ensure that Guam's sole civilian hospital can be relied on for top-quality patient care.
Another immediate concern is the opening of public schools. I'm very pleased with the working relationship our administration has with Dr. Nerissa Underwood and her team. My Chief Education Advisor is coordinating government agencies to provide the support public schools need. From school buses to school lunches, and from cash allotments to safe buildings and safe campuses, rest assured your children are our top priority.
As I said at our inauguration last week, there are problems everywhere, but only two roads we can take. We can just accept things as how they are, or we can lead change. I'm a governor who prefers to lead change.
Even though we face so many challenges, I'm excited and I'm very optimistic about our future. One of the highlights of our first week was our visit with Public Health employees. The lieutenant governor and I began visiting with government employees at the agencies. We want to see for ourselves the conditions employees work under and thefacilities where you are served. We saw overworked employees, still smiling and still wanting to make a difference, despite the lack of resources and the increasing demand for services. There are good people eager to serve you. We just ask for your patience as we make the changes needed to improve services and make them more efficient and accessible. And I won't tell you that we need a lot of time. We are acting now. You will begin to see improvements shortly, and we will not stop until you are satisfied.
We have a handle on the immediate issues. The most important thing you should know is that we haven't taken our eyes off what matters most – the future of your children. In the past week, I've met with Palau President Toribiong, Australian Ambassador Susan Cox, Assistant Secretary Babauta and several business leaders about initiatives we will be undertaking to grow our economy. In the short time we've been in office, we've already taken action on the military buildup, visa waiver programs, compact impactfunding, the free trade agreement with our neighbors in Korea, Medicare acceptance in the Philippines, and increasing commerce with the region.
Addressing the immediate problems is important. But, planning for a better future for your children is critical. We will have this dual focus until the problems are solved and you have a government you've long known you deserve.
I'm excited. The future is ours. This will be an administration you can trust. This will be an administration you can count on. Thank you for this opportunity. God bless Guam.