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BBMR breaks down biennial budget

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The Calvo Administration this week is issuing a series of special messages to break down their budget proposals, pressing why they need a supplemental budget and providing information on its biennial budget package. The messages are timely as Adelup within in days will appear before lawmakers for the opening scene of the balancing act.

It's the pre-show for the big show come Thursday and playing a starring role is Benita Manglona, the director of the Bureau of Budget Management & Research and the acting director of the Department of Administration. "As it stands, not only is there not enough cash to pay tax refunds as budgeted, there are not enough cash to pay for operations," she said.
 
During her special message, Manglona broke down the government's $349 million deficit and what the Calvo Administration inherited when it came into office in January. "$3.2 million in checks, mostly payroll, were floating at the bank," she said.
 
Manglona says the previous administration essentially was using General Fund cash meant for this year's revenues to pay for last year's obligations. Specifically, all of Section 30 monies for this year were wiped out by November. "We were forced to assess GovGuam's financial situation and do it quickly in order to minimize the damage caused during the prior years," she said.
 
Manglona defended that's why the hay study was suspended. It was one of the many steps and decision she says Governor Eddie Calvo took to mitigate the damage and take care of agencies that were shortchanged by the previous administration. "He ordered immediate spending cuts and began prioritizing budget allotments," she stated. "To his dismay, he found that UOG, GCC and the courts were not getting their budgeted allotments, and he ordered payments.  He also ordered repayments to restricted funds that were used for general fund operations."
 
The Administration, however, has reached a crossroad. "What we are lacking is the appropriation of revenues to get us through this fiscal year,"
 
The current fiscal year budget includes several holes, which Manglona cited:

  • GFD was short $4 million to pay its employees. The $21.6  Million appropriated already is only enough to pay employees until the end of June. If GFD does not get this money, there won't be any medics to run the ambulances and no firefighters to respond to emergencies by July.
  • DMHSA is short $1.7 million. Without this money by June, the department will have no choice but to cease services to children and adults living with disabilities, and their families.
  • Medicare premiums for the elderly are short $285,000. The Medicare benefits will end in August if there is no appropriation.
  • Supplemental annuities for retirees is short $321,000. The annuities will run dry without an appropriation.
  • DYA is short $116,000 to pay its employees. If DYA does not get this money by June, youth service workers and others will be without work, and children needing attention at DYA will have nowhere to go.
  • Medical, dental and life insurance for GovGuam employees is short $3.3 million, and for retirees, $8.1 million. These employees, retirees and their families will not have insurance if an appropriation isn't made by mid-June.
  • DISID is short $167,000. If DISID does not get this money, services for people living with disabilities will end in June/July.
  • DPHSS is short $291,000. If they do not get this money by July, services for the most vulnerable – those needing public assistance, prenatal care, immunizations, MIP and so much more – will be affected.
  • The previous Governor's Office cashed out nearly $600,000 in annual leave lump sum payments that were not budgeted. The Governor's Office will not have any funding by June without an appropriation to take care of this bill.

Said Manglona, "In these austere times, I understand how difficult it may have been for Senator Pangelinan to produce a Fiscal Year 2011 budget. It's not easy to be in charge of the finances when there's not enough cash to go around. These are issues that we want to work together to correct, so that together we can provide the services you expect from your government."
 
In the meantime, the supplemental budget and the governor's biennial budget go up for a public hearing Thursday morning, with an oversight with DOA scheduled for later that afternoon. And on an added note, the governor's fiscal responsibility and tax refund commission meets tomorrow morning at 8:30.

The governor appointed four additional democrats to the commission. Senators Judi Guthertz, Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., Adolpho Palacios and Ben Pangelinan. Senator Pangelinan, however, was the only one who declined to serve on the commission.

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