Calvo delivers first State of the Island - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo delivers first State of the Island

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - In his very first State of the Island Address today, Governor Eddie Calvo promised prosperity, support and a better Guam.  He began his speech by announcing a coordinated relief effort to help the victim of Friday's deadly disaster in Japan and then moved on to how his administration intends to help improve the quality of life for island residents.

Governor Calvo discussed his vision for The Guamanian Century of Prosperity - agreeing to partner with the legislature to end the cycle of poverty on the island. "We can reemerge," he announced. "We can be stronger and we can create."

But making that a reality will come with its share of challenges, as the governor pointed out the government's current critical financial state with a deficit that has ballooned by $84 million to a whopping $349 million. With a growing deficit, Governor Calvo proposed a strategic plan to stabilize the finances, which does not include raising taxes. "The people should not have to bear the burden of the government's inability to live within its means," he said. "But we are aggressively seeking both cash and revenues. 

"The Department of Revenue & Taxation is pursuing a Guam property assessment system, computer assisted mass appraisal and tax mapping projects."

He added his administration is working to hire more tax agents and revenue officers, as well as seeking federal reimbursement of Earned Income Tax Credits and Section 30 money. The governor also stressed his administration's priority to pay tax refunds and his solution to get that money back into the pockets of residents, saying, "These tax refunds rightfully belong to you. The government has been using your money to keep itself running. This is your money, not the government's."

"My administration is looking into financing the deficit. The immediate cash infusion will be used to pay tax refunds this year. And with a commitment to fiscal responsibility, we can fund operations and pay tax refunds on time from next fiscal year forward," Calvo stated. "The most important part of this plan is that it will help a lot of people at a time when Guam must be focusing all its efforts toward the future."

The governor said the military buildup would be the start of enhancing the island's economy and said he would be seeking funds to outsource a program management office under his direction to manage the buildup.

He also received a standing ovation for his stance on Fena, as he proclaimed, "I have news for Congress: the water at Fena does not belong to you. The governor added that Congress "cannot sell Guam the water that God has given and not a single penny will be spent on what is rightfully ours."

"And if we have to me and Senator Tom Ada and other senators, let's go march on Fena and if we have to, we'll go as far as the Supreme Court. We have to protect the water that belongs to the Guamanian people," he said.

In closing he said the strength of this island is in the character of all us. "Everything starts with a dream. We are not so defined by our problems today that we cannot reawaken the pride of the ancestors within us," said Calvo.

The governor dedicated today's address to the silent courage and kindhearted heroism of State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon, who recently signed the Programmatic Agreement.  The governor said his administration will continue to support her.

He also recognized Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz for his heroic actions-standing firm and fighting for what he believed was right by introducing legislation to strengthen keep Guam's children safe.

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