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No new budget as deadline nears

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The law mandates that on August 31 a budget be passed. And while it's still undetermined when in fact lawmakers will resume session, both Democrats and Republicans along with the Administration have stressed not only the need for compromise but decorum moving forward. 

"I thought the way that proceeded was most unfortunate," said Senator Aline Yamashita is referring to Saturday session this past weekend when lawmakers resumed session that she thought would be about the budget. The Democratic majority instead added Bill 174 related to GovGuam health insurance to the agenda.

"It seemed that they wanted to quickly address it with as little distraction as possible and get that done, and I say that because we asked to go into the Committee of the Whole, that was sidestepped," she said.

Yamashita says the majority "strutted" its power with disregard and disrespect as the Republican minority were repeatedly shot down where in the same time the Democrats were given more "latitude to speak." She says while the 15 senators want to do what's best for the people, she does not believe the platform on Saturday was fair. She further adds the high intensity of emotions and the conduct of some senators spilled over to the public hearing room - where dozens of retirees were present, one of whom Yamashita says shoved her along with another senator.

"I'm not a kisser, but I shake hands, so when I went up to her, she took both of her hands and pushed me away and started yelling at me, and I was stunned. I was stunned and I just looked at her and said, 'Oh my goodness', and she said a few other things and walked away," she recalled"

Yamashita, clearly upset, says as lawmakers resume session to discuss and hopefully pass a budget that the behavior in the legislature has to be one not only of compromise but of decorum. "We've had disagreements, we've had arguments, we've had all of this. We've had hurt feelings, but we've always had decorum, we've always had following the rules with respect and regard and on Saturday we didn't have it."

And in the fashion of compromise, Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. has written to BBMR requesting information on what other financial obligations exist of the Government of Guam that have not been paid or budgeted for. He lists the $25 million payment for the Layon Landfill along with future debt service and local matching to meet federal matching grants-in-aide. He says the information would help paint a true financial picture of what the budget priorities should be. He adds the information would be an "invaluable informational asset which could help us collaboratively reach mutually acceptable compromises aimed towards achieving a workable FY2014 budget."

Meanwhile, no word yet on when a new budget will be introduced or if a special session will  be called, but KUAM has learned that several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle along with the Administration have been meeting to work on a compromise. 

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