Governor Slams New Budget Bill - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Governor Slams New Budget Bill

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As lawmakers returned from recess Tuesday morning, a new substituted budget bill was added to the agenda. Although Republican Senator Chris Duenas objected he was overruled by a majority. His objection he said was based on the fact that he just received a copy of the new substitute version and did not have time to review it. The Governor's office meanwhile is already threatening to veto the measure calling the new budget "irresponsible".

Governor Eddie Calvo issued the following comment on the new bill:

"If we go down this road, we'll be right back to where we were just two years ago. How do some of the senators think we got into a deficit to begin with? It was through budgeting imaginary revenues just so government could make empty promises to people for political purposes. Our promise to phase in the Hay and increase the COLA is backed by real funding. The Legislature knows full well that the government cannot afford the full implementation of the Hay plan along with the full restoration of the COLA to $1,800 all in one year. These are empty promises that, if budgeted at these imaginary levels, risks non-payment of COLA, payless paydays on the Hay, operational shortfalls, and a return to the days of late tax refunds. We cannot risk sacrificing critical services to our people. This is completely irresponsible. I have seen this kind of irresponsible budgeting too many times in the past. It's how we got to a half-a-billion dollar deficit that hurt so many of our people. The buck stops on my desk. I will not allow this kind of irresponsible budgeting to happen again. This bill, if it reaches my desk, is dead on arrival."

The Governor says his Administration was provided a copy of the draft of the bill and has been reviewing it. The Governor lists the following concerns with the new alternative budget bill:

  1. There is no payment of debt service. The government of Guam will be in default of its bonds if it does not make payments.
  2. The budget chairman wants the Governor to use a line of credit to pay debts to Judiciary and DOE employees for their retroactive increments and merit bonuses. The last time the government used a line of credit to pay for operations, Standards & Poors placed the government on CreditWatch.
  3. The amount entered in the Provision for Tax Refunds is overinflated, locking $7 million away. This is funding that could be used to fund the shortfalls in health and safety.
  4. The bill severely cuts funding to the health agencies, endangering the health and livelihood of thousands of Guamanians.
  5. The bill severely cuts funding to the public safety agencies, endangering the safety and security of all Guamanians. This included funding originally meant to hire new police officers.

The governor adds that the alternative bill  promises to fully implement the Hay raises and an increase in the annual COLA to $1,800. "There IS NOT ENOUGH MONEY to meet this promise. This provision alone will lead to a payless payday."

Senators are currently in session going section by section through the new budget bill. KUAM has requested a copy of the new legislation from Committee Chair on Appropriations Chairperson, Senator Ben Pangelinan's office. 

 

 

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