Governor's Weekly Radio Address - June 27 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Governor's Weekly Radio Address - June 27

Fighting for the Guamanian Dream
by Eddie Baza Calvo

Hafa adai, my Fellow Guamanians,

Almost everyone wants a sense of security and economic freedom. You want enough saved at the bank for a rainy day. You want to feed and clothe your children, and have the money to send them to college. You want them to have a good education, and to raise them in safe neighborhoods. You want to take the kids to baseball and soccer games, or to spend Sunday barbequeing and relaxing in the yard.

You want to raise your families in a home of your own.  This is the Guamanian Dream that the majority of Guamanians do not live.

Try as we may, the dream seems beyond reach. It comes down to one very important opportunity that is missing for many: the opportunity to work and to earn an income.

As of March this year, unemployment is at an alarming 13.3 percent. This means almost 10,000 people are out of work and looking for a job. It is a four percentage point increase from 2009, when unemployment was 9.3 percent. What is most startling is that unemployment has been going up every year since 2006. We will end this trend. This increase comes as no surprise. Wherever I am in the community, there are many people, especially young adults, looking for jobs. This is why it's been our most strategic priority to prepare Guam's workforce and students in today's classrooms for the opportunities ahead.

While there are more jobs on Guam, there are also more teenagers and adults looking for work. The population has increased. The economy is expanding. There are more people qualified for work. But, unfortunately, the economy is not keeping pace with job demand.

We are addressing this problem on two fronts:  We have long-term solutions to ensure that your children in school right now have the skillsets and the opportunity to have a good career when they graduate. What we need is for schools throughout the island to align their curriculum with career outcomes based on industry projections. Eveything
should be based on outcomes. If we want to build a strong economy, we need to know what that economy should look like. In order to get there, we need a strong workforce to fill the careers that will build these industries. We call this our Classrooms-to-Careers initiative. It is our long-term strategic economic plan. This plan will create a strong future over the next decade and beyond.

What needs to happen to lower the unemployment rate now is quite simple. We need cash to circulate in this economy so businesses can hire more people. There are several initiatives we are undertaking now to make that happen. The most obvious of our solutions is the bond we are proposing to pay all tax refunds by Christmas. This will pump $280 million into the economy at one time, spurring job creation.

I've also directed the government to spend all bonds and grants as quickly as possible. This includes over a hundred million dollars in Hotel Occupancy Tax bonds, ARRA grants and highway funding.  We've been meeting with scores of prospective investors from Asia and the mainland U.S. selling to them the idea that Guam is the right place for them to bring their money. We'll be following up with this initiative later this year on several trade missions through major Asian cities.

More cash in your hands means a greater sense of security and economic freedom for you. It means you have the means to provide for your families and to start pursuing your dreams. It's about the tax refunds this government owes you, and the well-paying jobs you deserve to earn. Career development is the bridge to your future, your family's future and the future of this island. It translates into a better life for you. It will bring you closer to your dream of homeownership and freedom from your bills and your struggles.

We're working on making these opportunities more available for you. We've been here for six months trying to fix problems that have been around for 20 years. Rest assured, we're working hard and we're implementing solutions for you. Everything from your tax refunds to career opportunities to affordable housing is being worked on. This is what you hired us to do, and we won't let you down.

Thank you, Si Yu'os en Fan'binendisi, and God bless.

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