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Governor follows through on promise

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo officially vetoed Substitute Bill 145 this afternoon nearly a week after the proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget was passed by a bare margin of eight Democrats in the Guam Legislature. The island's chief executive did what he said he was going to do, vetoing the substitute budget bill passed by eight Democrats during session last Friday. 

From the start Calvo called the bill "disastrous", with his main problem with the legislation being Senator Ben Pangelinan's $180 million bond proposal that pays only $120 million in past due tax refunds. Governor Calvo said he wouldn't compromise because it wasn't his money to compromise with in the first place.

"With that in mind, seeing what the impacts would be to both government services as well as to the tax payers of Guam, those that are owed these long due tax refunds, I'm vetoing this bill and will be sending the legislature into session to deal with and come up with a proposal that will pay off all the tax refunds that are owed and put forward a budget that we can continue the operations of government in Fiscal Year 2012," he said.

The new bill is expected to include Governor Calvo's original $343 million bond proposal to pay out all past due tax refunds. Speaker Judi Won Pat, however, says Calvo shouldn't just focus on one issue but addressing everything, including his reorganization plan which she says hasn't heard about since early-August. "I think what's happening is, we put the income tax right in the front and get everyone excited about it and want to get their tax refunds, but they're kind of putting the governor's layoff," she told KUAM News.

"The reorganization to the back burner, to kind of say let's hang this carrot over there and let everyone get excited about it, and after they get that, come January, then the people won't have their jobs or they're reorganized or downsized."

Won Pat says the Guam Legislature is still willing to work with the governor at the start of the new year to go over revenues, spending habits and recommendations from his Deficit Reduction and Fiscal Responsibility Task Force.

Yet Governor Calvo maintains what he's been saying all along that now is the time to go after the bond. "I do believe that if we call them back into session, I will be presenting them a bill that is prudent, fiscally responsible and make good in the promises that we have made to pay all those long past due refunds paid by December," he stated.

The governor adds his new bill will also address certain amendments in the vetoed version that he says would cause major operational problems within the Government of Guam, including the 50% diversion of Business Privilege Tax receipts that had the potential of causing an immediate crisis in the government come the first of October.

Special session is tomorrow at 8am.

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