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Fiscal Responsibility group has first meeting

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - This morning marked the first official meeting of the Fiscal Responsibility and Tax Refund Commission, established through an executive order signed by Governor Eddie Calvo and co-chaired by Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz. With the Administration's supplemental and biennial budget up for a public hearing tomorrow, Governor Calvo says he's open to suggestions on how to deal with the government's financial woes.

"I would like to see as we present our plan, this is a good time to say you know what governor I think this may be a better of way of doing this whether its in the supplemental, biennial whether its in how do we deal with this deficit and prior year obligations maybe this is a better way to do it," he said.

Commission members brought several ideas to the table, such as Republican Senator Tony Ada, who recommended stepping up efforts in applying for federal grants. "Looking for it and actually applying for it are two different things: are they agencies going out there aggressively applying for it, and if an agency doesn't have a grant writer is it within the government to say 'I don't have a grant writer, can I turn to you for help to apply for this grant?'"

Adelup officials responded that was actually already taking place and that there is inter-agency collaboration as well efforts have been stepped up at the Guam State Clearing House to secure federal dollars. 

Meanwhile, Cruz recommended requiring and ensuring off island companies like GovGuam's bond consultants are paying their fair share of taxes. Likewise former senator and GFT president Matt Rector asked whether there were efforts to collect GRT from what he called "businesses in the Black Market". Department of Revenue & Taxation director John Camacho said he was actually working on a plan to hire either a CPA or legal firm to go after these companies that have been flying under the radar and not paying their taxes.

The Commission would also discuss cost containment measures such as cutting off-island travel. The governor brought up an idea suggesting that rather than the same select few  being sent off island for training, the administration is looking into sending trainers here so more GovGuam employees can be trained.

Likewise Senator Judi Guthertz submitted a list of recommendations called the Humane Deficit Elimination Plan. Some cost containment measures she suggested: following through on plans for GovGuam reorganization, abolishing deputy director positions, implementing an immediate two-year moratorium on all increments, promotions and reclassifications and eliminate all government-funded cell phones.

Meanwhile, the governor is also looking into a suggestion by co-chair Cruz to add additional Republican senators to equal the amount sitting from the majority. The next meeting is scheduled for two weeks from now on June 1. "It's an open table - let's have this exchange and if there's a better way in doing things or if there tweaking that needs to be done let's get it done."

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