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A tale of two sessions

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo kept with his vow to veto to Democrat-backed budget bill submitted and passed within six hours of being added to the agenda on Tuesday.   

Senator Ben Pangelinan, "If it's one promise he kept he kept his promise to veto the bill. And I thank him for keeping his promise."

A part of that promise was to also send down another budget to lawmakers and call them into special session to discuss it. The governor did that at around 12:30 sending a letter to the Legislature, calling them into session for 1 o'clock. The catch? Speaker Judi Won Pat had already called senators into a regular session at 10:30 also for 1 this afternoon.

When session started Senator Pangelinan motioned to have the governor's veto of the budget bill added to the voting file for the purpose of an override.

Senator Chris Duenas said, "We thought once again a gentlemen's agreement that we were going to session just for the purposes of waiting for the bill that's being produced that the governor sent to us, now we're acting in special session or in your call into session when the governor has called us into special session. I believe we have to dispose of the governor's matter that's he's put before us."

Speaker Won Pat said that she would recess out of regular session and into special session once the governor's bill was reproduced for lawmakers. Senator Duenas asked for the parliamentarian of the Legislature for clarity. He said, "The governor can call us into session even when we're in session...I would like to get a ruling on that...I would like to ask that the gentlemen please give some decorum."

As word hit Adelup about the lawmakers proceeding with session a press release was issued immediately stating the speaker's action to ignore the governor's call for special session was illegal and against their standing rules. The Democrats meanwhile overruled the Duenas' objection and proceeded with the discussion on the governor's veto. Senator Pangelinan arguing the island's chief executive was misleading the people in his criticisms of his budget.

"The most glaring for me is the governor continues to insist is because we're providing too much money for tax refunds," he said.

Pangelinan adding the appropriation in his budget for tax refunds were based on calculations from rev and tax, adding, "So when the director of DRT did his job by statue and performed the calculation he determined that was required to be set aside was $129 million. And the governor keeps insisting that's too much money so he has set a provision that's gone from $113 million to $107 million. But if you take a look at what has occurred is the governor is kind of talking about fiscal year and not tax year. So by the time we pay the tax refunds he's only saying I'm going to pay, but he's not."

Respicio said, "Sorry, Ben. I believe what the gentlemen is saying is all important for all members to listen to and I noticed that our colleges have walked out."

Even without the minority senators present, the Democrats proceeded to vote but the override failed.

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