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Session will focus on supplemental budget

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Speaker Judi Won Pat today announced that she is calling the 31st Guam Legislature into session this Friday. And up for discussion is the supplemental budget.

$36 million - that's how much Governor Eddie Calvo and his financial team believe is needed to keep GovGuam running through the summer months and until the end of this fiscal year. "So it's important and incumbent that we move this forward," said Governor Eddie Calvo, "and I feel very confident we've had a lot of cooperation with the different agencies that we've looked towards in regards to funding sources."

One of the big funding sources - $15 million, based on a report from the Guam Office of Public Accountability - was overpaid to the Government of Guam Retirement Fund. During a recent public hearing, Fund board chairperson Joe T. San Agustin testified against the provision in the supplemental budget bill, but now after meetings with Adelup, they may have found a deal. "We told the governor if you accept our proposal to help them then submit it to the Legislature," he said.

The Retirement Fund is proposing a temporary solution, with San Agustin saying, "Our proposal is to market the investment return of the Retirement Fund. It has been very good for the last three to four years we're getting good returns, so why don't we? In order to temporarily assist the government in their cash shortfall be able to reduce the government contribution by maybe 2% that way, in so doing the employees' money will continue to come in the employee can then be able to retire and the loss of investment opportunity of that particular employees money in a sense will not be jeopardized."

According to Governor Calvo, meetings with the Retirement Fund have been occurring daily including over this past weekend to reach a compromise. "What I told them is if there is any other option, we found something of course that is backed up by audits both from the public auditors point of view as well as their independent audits, but they have concerns on those audit findings and they've come back to us with other recommendations. And as far as I'm concerned either one is satisfactory as long as it can help make up for that shortfall," he said.

According to San Agustin, the ball is in the Administration's lap [sic]. "They have to take that ball if they accepted our proposal; to try to help government," he noted.

And once the ball starts rolling, it heads to Adelup - where Senator Ben Pangelinan will take over. Pangelinan said, "We are confident that we are going to ensure that in the supplemental budget the governor will have what he needs he may not have everything he wants in the form that he wants, but he will have what he needs in order to manage this government."

A government, according to Minority Leader Senator Frank Blas, Jr., who met with the governor today, which needs $36 million immediately. "That was the gist of conversation is what is the necessity recognizing that there were shortfalls in many of the critical areas and departments you have the hospital, Mental Health, GPD, these are areas where we can't afford a shutdown."

Session Friday is scheduled for nine o'clock in the morning.

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