by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The Calvo Administration's fiscal policy team won't give up on their efforts to have what they call a "fiscally irresponsible measure" shot down if it is reconsidered by the Guam Legislature. Specifically, members of the Department of Revenue & Taxation contend Finance and Taxation Committee chairman Senator Ben Pangelinan intentionally misled his colleagues about their position on Bill 140.
Deputy DRT Director Marie Benito says the agency provided written testimony opposing Pangelinan's bill, but the Budget Committee's report did not include their testimony or that of the Bureau of Budget & Management Research.
According to transcripts of the discussion on the legislation from last Friday's session, Senator Pangelinan stated that Rev & Tax has "less of a problem with regards to this bill than the original bill." It's something Benito and Deputy Tax Commissioner Paul Pablo say is far from the truth.
Pablo said, "The department did submit written testimony in opposition of his original version. We never saw the amended version but he did say that one of his senior staff, Chris Budasi, would send it to us; but we appeared down at the Legislative Hall because he was going to call the Committee of the Whole to talk about that bill and he met us outside and said there was no need for us to appear, and that if we were fine with them removing the levy to the account. That was basically the general discussion, and we said, 'You know, that's great', but we were prohibited from discussing the refund matters because of the class action case that was filed in court and we didn't want to jeopardize anything with that."
Benito added, "Later on I found out about 3 o'clock that he went into session and stated that Rev & Tax saw the amended bill and we're in support of the bill, so I'd like to correct that misstatement...we oppose Bill 140."
Even with today's failed vote on the measure, the governor's fiscal team is urging senators to unite against the bill's passage, again reiterating that passage into law would have major negative consequences on government workers, tax refunds, bond ratings, the solvency of the government and its ability to operate services.