Guam - For the past couple of months, roundtable meetings were held with several departments and agencies to get feedback on the governor's Spending Cuts Bill. Now Bill 507 is one step closer to possibly being heard on session floor as the committee report is finalized and complete.
After more than a handful of hearings, Committee on General Government Operations chairman Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has completed the committee report for Bill 507 - all 80+ pages full of transcriptions of testimony and feedback. "I included all the correspondence I got from the Retirement Fund, which says they're adamantly opposed to the ERIP, the early retirement provision," he said.
The committee report however does not include any recommendations nor does it amend the bill except for taking out provisions related to the Guam Fire Department pay in which both the Governor's Office and the Guam Legislature agreed upon. Cruz says Bill 507 will make it to the Committee on Rules next week where it will be decided whether it makes it on session agenda.
He says having the body decide during session on what should or should not remain in the bill is the best route in order to see some cost-saving measures. "I think everybody indifference to the governor wants it at least to get to the floor," he said. "We don't want him to say that we just circular-canned his bill, it will go to the floor and we will make a decision one way or the other 014935 but it will have an up and down vote."
The biggest concern remains over the Retirement Fund provisions that seek an early retirement incentive program and an extension of the unfunded liability amortization period. "But right now, we as members are just going to take into account what the Retirement Fund has said and then how we're going to interpret their statements," Cruz noted.
The estimated savings from the Retirement Fund proposals is between $40-60 million - a majority of the total proposed savings. Cruz says without it, the other spending cuts would only amount to a little over a million dollars. Ultimately, Cruz says he'll leave it up to the body to decide but as he's stated before, he's disappointed that consultation or feedback from the retirement fund was not done prior to the measure being introduced.
The Committee on Rules meanwhile meets on Monday at 2pm.