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Budget proposal 5.0

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's another go around for lawmakers as they were called into session to discuss the fifth budget proposal for the next fiscal year. "From the onset, I'd like to say Bill 177 is a result of the many discussions we've had over the last several weeks with regards to proposals that have been placed before this body for action and discussion and ultimately action," stated Senator Ben Pangelinan.

It's the fifth budget proposal before the body - two from the Governor's Office and three from Senator Pangelinan, the appropriations chair. Pangelinan's Substituted Budget Bill 38 as you recall was passed down party lines and eventually vetoed by Governor Eddie Calvo. An attempt for an override took place but eventually failed as well. Governor Calvo then submitted his own Budget Bill 1-s which also was voted down- straight down party lines once again. We should add both of measures were discussed and voted on just in the last week.

Pangelinan further stated that the revenue numbers in Bill 177 are the same revenue numbers that the Administration submitted in Bill 1-s that were attested to and verified by the governor's fiscal management team.

He said, "While I still feel a little uncomfortable with some of the provisions that allow us to recognize those revenue numbers the governor has consistently stated that he is confident that those revenue numbers will be collected. Members in this body have expressed confidence in that for voting for the governor's revenue numbers in Bill 10s who called it fiscally responsible to adopt those numbers."

The draft measure was submitted to lawmakers at midnight Wednesday with the final version introduced shortly before session started this morning. The newest budget bill appropriates $804.5 million for FY2014. Among the notable differences between this bill and the governor's measure is it appropriates $7 million more for the provision for tax refund payments. It further restores the cost of living allowances once again to the $1,800 full restoration for retirees.

As for the Hay Plan raises, the new budget bill appropriates $8.4 million for classified personnel only or classified and unclassified personnel.

Lawmakers meanwhile spent the latter part of the afternoon in the Committee of the Whole going chapter by chapter, section by section discussing once again the appropriations for the Department of Education to the Guam Memorial Hospital to the various GovGuam agencies and departments. No one from the governor's fiscal team were present for the discussions.

As for the mandate to pass and submit a budget to the governor no later than August 31, a date Committee of Rules chair Senator Rory Respicio says has already been followed considering a bill was pass and submitted last week. The budget meanwhile must be signed into law before the start of the fiscal year which is October 1, exactly one month from today. 

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