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Calvo, directors explain need to cut

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Adelup is doing a full court press in trying to get support for Governor Eddie Calvo's spending cuts bill currently in the hands of the Guam Legislature. And according to the island's chief executive, if the cuts aren't made, it may threaten the ability to pay tax refunds on time and deliver the critical services in our community.  Calvo says although his administration has been able to realize some savings in the past year and a half, if more cuts aren't made to operations in the next few months, the cash shortfall will continue to grow.

In his Weekly Address earlier this week, Governor Calvo says the cuts are needed to get tax refunds back to the people along with providing the resources to run critical operations. "But these are cuts that I would believe will allow us now to have the necessary resources to get people those tax refunds," he stated. "We still have this fairly large deficit and a lot of that amount is owed to the people."

In a series of videos released from Adelup, Department of Administration director Benita Manglona states if we don't cut spending under the governor's pl an now in order to afford the payment of tax refunds, there won't be enough to pay employees up to market standard and provide the resources we need to areas such as the Department of Public Works, the Guam Police Department, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Education. "If we don't cut spending, there are going to be some departments that won't be funded if we have to pay the tax refunds," she said.

She adds it's difficult not being able to provide some of the tools many department heads request and need on a daily basis. One of which includes DPW director Joanne Brown, who says it all comes down to the lack of resources in providing the critical services such as delivering transporting safely 39,000 of the island's school children. Brown told KUAM News, "Our challenge right now is to get additional busses online (and) additional bus drivers. I have six bus drivers who will be retiring in the next couple of weeks. So those are critical positions that need to be replaced. I also need to increase the number of mechanics that we have that maintain the busses primarily also because we have an aging fleet of busses. Right now I have nine mechanics. 

"That is not adequate by any means to take care of the daily requirements to maintain our bus operations."

The same can be said for Police Police Chief Fred Bordallo, who says his department currently has 306 police officers. "We need to increase that in terms of personnel. But in order to support that the personnel that we recruit and hire need to be trained so we need the financial support to pay for training of these officers," he shared.

For Calvo, he hopes senators help him make the tough decisions by considering his spending cuts bill. "Sometimes the medicine is bitter, but the rewards of taking that medicine in the long run, are to the best interest of the patient. And in this particular instance, our spending cuts bill will be in the best long-term interest of this government, but most importantly, to our taxpayers: the people of Guam," he said.

During the first two roundtable discussions this week on the governor's bill, lawmakers have requested he submit a new spending cuts proposal because it's filled with ambiguity and gaps. Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz said the way the bill is written it doesn't jive with the intent of the Administration. Cruz, along with other Democrat senators. was critical of Manglona, saying she didn't have specific data and numbers to explain the proposed cuts. Cruz told KUAM News, "She wasn't ready. She wasn't prepared and is not competent to take this position."

Meanwhile, the spending cuts hearings with the National Guard, the Government of Guam Retirement Fund, nurses and teachers continues next week Monday.

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