Substitute bill passes unanimously - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Substitute bill passes unanimously

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo scrapped his call for lawmakers to go into special session this morning, after Speaker Judi Won Pat decided to call her colleagues into a session last night. An override of the governor's veto of Bill 516 failed. The governor vetoed the bill which was to address the USDOE's extension for Guam DOE to obligate ARRA money, but also included language to clean up a major error in the current fiscal year budget which left a majority of unclassified employees in the legislature and judiciary - including judges and justices without funding to get a paycheck.

It also included a provision that re-appropriated funding that was intended for Mental Health for its permanent injunction to instead go to UOG and GCC. The latter provision was the primary reason Calvo vetoed the bill, adding he believes the legislatures 48-hour action on the measure was hypocritical. "Too long ago the vice speaker and the ways and Ways and Means chair for not giving a personal invitation to the Retirement Fund to attend out 20 community meetings dealing with cuts to government spending and then here we have now a measure that takes $3 million from Mental Health to be spent at GCC and UOG without so much as a public hearing. I didn't even get a correspondence that they were attempting to do this. I see a bit of contradiction," he said.

Federal management team's Dr. James Kiffer wished there would have been a public hearing on the bill so that he could testify against it.

Meanwhile, during session last night's session, Senator Ben Pangelinan like he did Monday night on KUAM – fessing-up to the budget blunder and asked for support for the override. "We admit - I admit to that mistake, Madam Speaker. I think the Judiciary is very comfortable that it was an unintended mistake and it was not intended to change the structure of the way they operate and their ability to hire unclassified positions within the Judiciary," he said.

After the override failed lawmakers then immediately passed  Substitute Bill 496. The original version was introduced in August and specifically dealt with the ARRA extension; the substitute version does the same thing but addresses the budget blunder involving unclassified employees, and yet another budget error dealing with funding for cultural performers for this weekend's Micronesia Island Fair.

Speaker Judi Won Pat said, "Apparently the language there was not reflected in the final bill."

Although substitute Bill 496 leaves out any mention of Mental Health, Governor Calvo says his team will conduct a thorough review to ensure there aren't any more surprises. "I have no problem with the Micronesia fair but Again its another surprise and another example of the legislature obviously correcting some of the errors and some of the sloppiness that I've seen over these many months and years of this current legislature and the budgets that have been passed but they're doing these corrections without any benefit of a public hearing," said Governor Calvo.

Substitute Bill 496 passed unanimously.

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