Governor delivers 2012 State of the Island - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Governor delivers 2012 State of the Island

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo delivered before a packed house at the Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall and before tens of thousands watching on KUAM-TV and online at KUAM.com his 2012 State of the Island Address.

The governor encouraged the island to imagine the possibilities, to have confidence and courage and that the future of our island lies with our children and ensuring they receive the best education possible.  
 
He started his address by talking about the government's finances and how it's been 20 years since the government stopped robbing its citizens of their tax refunds and that after two decades tax refunds are on time. He asked senators to work together swiftly to pay the people the remaining balance of their money.
 
The government also talked about his efforts toward reorganization and the consolidation of agencies and outsourcing of service, the latter of which he said in his proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget he submitted to the legislature today he reordered the reorganization of animal control and outsourcing those functions to the mayors. He announced that his next outsourcing project is the Department of Motor Vehicles at the Department of Revenue and Taxation "as a rule government should never compete with the private sector"
 
The governor added the demand for excellence is a precursor to a total change in how agencies will be funded in the future. His fiscal team is working to transition the government into performance based budgeting.  Which means that in the future agencies will be funded based on their performance rather than on what they request.
 
In terms of what we will see in the near future, the governor says you will see an emphasis in providing more online services to government customers. In doing so, this the governor says will reduce traffic at government agencies, and make it more convenient for you to get services from GovGuam. There's also a possibility of putting up service kiosks at Rev & Tax so that you wont have to wait in long lines. You can just walk up to the machine and make your transaction.
 
The governor in his address admitted that things are better but let's not kid ourselves, we are far from where we need to be. The state of the government is better, but the state of our island is vulnerable. The governor saying that 30 percent of our people have no choice but to accept public assistance. The saddest statistic of them all is 67 percent of public school children come from families struggling so much in life that these children have to take reduced or free lunch assistance. The governor talked about ending the cycle of poverty by providing opportunities such as affordable homes and education, as well as jobs.
 
One of the short-term solutions the governor talked about during his address is the military buildup, "It is clear as day to me that the buildup brings with it the greatest hope for the current jobless, and those looking to increase their wages and income."  The governor went on to criticize those senators which he did not name for sending mixed signals to Washington about whether Guam wanted the buildup. The governor directed a message to President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "we absolutely and without pause want the buildup and we welcome America's heroes to our shores".  The governor also announced that as a compromise offered by Senator Judi Guthertz who chairs the Buildup Committee in the Legislature. He will be issuing an executive order impaneling the Guam First Commission advisory body so that all communications with Washington are made with once voice.
 
On the issue of healthcare, Governor Calvo announced that by the end of this quarter the Guam Memorial Hospital will be implementing its austerity plan that will allow GMH to hire more nurses and doctors it needs.  Additionally he has directed GMH, the Guam Fire Department and Public Health to develop a tiered urgent to emergency medical care system.  This will allow public health facilities in Dededo, Mangilao and Inarajan to establish urgent care centers and receive non-emergency patients transported by ambulance. The governor has also instructed Public Health to start working toward extending the hours at the community health centers.
 
In terms of mental health, the governor went off on the federal government and the federal management team which he says has failed. The governor said that the most interesting part of this story is that unlike the problems at GMH, or Public Health, Mental Health has a lot of money. That's because island taxpayers have given $9,000,000 to help solve the problems he further questioned where that money has gone. The governor criticized the federal government because it is the reason why Mental Health and DISID have been pushed to the limit.
 
The governor used the example at Mental Health to go after the federal government on several other issues such as Compact impact, which he suggests has led to an unnatural demand on services. "One by one our systems began breaking under the weight of the compacts, school crowding in the north, prison funding and conditions, waste water treatment, capacity at the Ordot Dump, and MIP funding that was no longer enough. The governor noted the consent decrees and stipulated orders that followed and how the feds sued us to make nearly the half billion dollars in improvements to accommodate -their- failures.  Calvo said enough is enough. The governor announced that his team is exploring aggressive avenues to hold the federal government accountable for the money it owes Guam based on the federal government's own written obligations.
 
In terms of education, the governor announced the creation of an executive level task force that brings together the Governor's Office, GEDA and DOE to explore how they can finance the renovation and rebuilding of existing schools and the construction of new ones. The task force is being led by his chief education liaison, Vince Leon Guerrero. The governor says education is key to the island's future.
 
The governor also put on blast the Guam Federation of Teachers and how the decision to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School was hinged on the union. Calvo also noted how the GFT contract left parents, teachers, principals and the superintendent and the board powerless. "Get rid of the current contract that only vests power in a select few union bosses who care little to nothing for the future of Guam's children," he said.
 
Calvo also talked about revitalizing and rezoning the island's capitol, and announced that the request for proposal was signed to begin the renovations to the Plaza De Espana and efforts to restore the capitol and bring the Guam Museum to Hagatna. The governor announced that as part of the finance strategies to build new schools and also to restore the capitol is through the EB-5 Visa Program in which foreign nationals have incentives from the state department to enter a U.S. city and invest their capitol.
 
The governor would end his speech talking about the "Imagine Guam Project", one that entails envisioning the Guam of the future and building toward that vision. To start the process Calvo announced that he will be bringing together program managers of every master plan currently in place in government and merging them to get rid of redundant projects.  He will then call on the people of Guam to submit their ideas. 

The inspiration behind dreaming big and imagining comes down to finding the courage and confidence within ourselves, and in turn instilling that hope and inspiration in our children so they too can imagine and achieve their Guamanian dream.

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