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Senators continuing session Tuesday

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Lawmakers during session today didn't get a chance to discuss Bill 516 introduced by Speaker Judi Won Pat and Senator Ben Pangelinan, the measure if enacted into law would extend the deadline for the obligation of ARRA monies to conform with the recent extension granted by the U.S. Department of Education. It also amends the FY13 budget by increasing revenue projections by $5 million to take into account the recent $5 million reimbursement in Section 30 monies by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Governor Eddie Calvo used the extra money to go toward tax refunds.  The legislation also re-appropriates $3 million that would have initially gone to Mental Health for its amended permanent injunction and instead appropriates it to the University of Guam, Guam Community College and the Government of Guam Retirement Fund.

Pangelinan said, "Again this was a change that occurred after the budget bill the Government of Guam was taken out of the federal management team by December of this year and there was an appropriation to deposit pursuant to the consent decree court order we were making monthly deposits if you recall in the fiscal year so the federal management team could have the money to do the hiring for the consent decree personnel since the court did not order any new deposits in FY2012 so we're taking that money giving that money to GCC and UOG in order to avert a tuition increase at UOG and for GCC they just need additional money for their operations." 

This provision however is causing concern for the administration. According to governor's legal counsel Maria Cenzon she has received an email from Dr. Jim Kiffer who still heads the federal management team overseeing Mental Health. "The reason why we're concerned is because currently the court ordered payments which by now would be well over $15 million had a stay not been imposed could in affect really in theory really be re-implemented by the court really at any time the court thought it could lift the stay the order of the court that required the Government of Guam to keep paying into a certain trust fund has only been stayed, it has not been vacated so we're very concerned that in the event the court should lift that stay, we'd have to scramble for the funding, which has already been allocated and earmarked for that particular fund."

Session resumes tomorrow at 10 in the morning.

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