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Calvo discusses "Keeping Up with Mandates"

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Keeping Up with Mandates
By Eddie Baza Calvo

My fellow Guamanians,
 
The budget to run the government pays for the services it provides to you. This is how the process works:

Every year, the government looks at its current needs and assesses what its needs will be for the next year, then it prepares a budget.

Every pay check and every year, you pay taxes to run these services. The government also collects fees and grants. These are revenues.

Every month or every three months the Bureau of Budget allows every agency to spend a certain amount of money based on the budget, and based on anticipated revenue collections. These are called allotments.

Every two weeks the Department of Administration looks at the amount of cash coming in to the government. If it projects low cash collections, it is a signal for government to rework its payment schedules. If the cash flow is good, then we're able to spend as the budget dictates.

Every day, DOA manages the cash flow and directs what can be paid – government payroll, tax refunds, vendor payments, and the list goes on.
 
It all comes back to the first reason for government to collect money at all – its mandates to provide services. Government services have evolved since the beginning of GovGuam. At the start, there were simple mandates, such as providing police services, public education and the management of taxes. Over the years, the people of Guam demanded more services, and rightfully so. Our population has been increasing. The community has been changing.

Today, we provide services for people living with disabilities. It wasn't that long ago that these people were ignored, and the services they needed never existed. Today we provide a Medically Indigent Program, to help less fortunate families get healthcare. Today there's a public hospital, and a power and water authority that replaced the services that only the Navy provided years ago.

There are programs that cost tens of millions, like EITC and COLA. In the past few years, the government was ordered by courts to pay hundreds of millions to these programs and for the Mental Health permanent injunction and the Ordot Consent Decree.
 
There are services throughout this government that help people. They range from affordable housing programs to environmental protection. They are run by people who serve underprivileged children in public schools to small business owners who need permits and licenses. Some of these services are antiquated and must be revamped and upgraded to serve you better. By and large, the mission of each of these programs is important to countless people.
 
There are larger mandates, like the mandate to provide an adequate education to students. This mandate serves 31,000 schoolchildren. There's also the mandate to care for everyone who walks through the door at Guam Memorial Hospital. Last year, residents walked into GMH 169,356 times for medical services. Then, there are smaller mandates, like reporting requirements, that are still important to the functioning of your government.
 
It is these mandates for services that demand funding to run the government. This is where your money goes. And these mandates grow every time the Legislature and the Governor enact laws that tell an agency what to do. Fellow citizens, in 1998, there were 15,340 GovGuam employees providing services to you. In 2001, an assessment was made on the mandates of every agency. Back then, there were 1,591 mandates.
 
Today, my fellow Guamanians, 11,870 GovGuam employees do their very best to provide services based on a growing number of mandates set in law and other governing documents. To be clear, the great majority of these mandates are undertaken by only 7,140 GovGuam workers, to include public school teachers.

The remaining workforce comes from the autonomous agencies that fund themselves through the revenues they generate. The executive branch workforce has decreased by more than 2,000 employees since 1998. But they are still expected to provide the same level of service that was provided 13 years ago.
 
There are areas for improvement, streamlining, reorganization and outsourcing. But, by and large, this government is not bloated with people. It's bloated with mandates. And the more mandates there are, the more expensive government becomes. And when this government promises to fulfill a mandate and then ends up breaking that promise, it's called an unfunded mandate.

Those unfunded mandates are the reason the government can never quite get its fiscal house in order. Aside from over-projections of revenues, this is what is responsible for the structural imbalance of the General Fund.
 
Critics are fast to point at the cuts needed to the GovGuam workforce. I have news for the critics. This workforce has been cut by nearly 3,500 workers in the last 13 years without any real cuts to the number of services and mandates.
 
We are a growing community with growing needs and a growing cycle of poverty. We cannot afford to cut services to those most in need. Through policies underway and the budget I introduced, we want to make services more efficient through customer service and online services. We want to pay you your refunds and free up our management of cash by floating a bond. We want to set government finances on the right path so that the next generation doesn't have to deal with the severe and systemic problems we have now.
 
Thank you for your time, Saina Ma'ase yan si Yu'us en Fan'binendisi.

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