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Fifth budget proposal passed

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - After weeks of talking about the budget, lawmakers shortly after 10 o'clock Thursday night passed the newest version of the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget. The measure passed 10-4 with Republican senators Tommy Morrison and Aline Yamashita joining the democrats in voting for the bill's passage.

Minority leader Tony Ada was one of four Republicans who voted against the measure and says his decision was based on concerns in trying to address the financial crisis at the Guam Memorial Hospital. Ada along with several lawmakers attended Thursday evening's GMH board meeting in between session.

"What had happened is the information we got back from the hospital, I wanted to see what we can do to put an appropriation in there for the hospital to increase for next year's budget or if there's something we can do right now to help them out of their fiscal crisis because the hospital is in dire need," he said.

He says while it looks like a possible compromise was met with several lawmakers, he was taken back not only by the rush to discuss the bill, but by the unwillingness to recess and further discuss how to find revenues for the hospital. Among the bill's other highlights is it sets aside $120 million for tax refunds and restores retirees COLA to $1,800. The measure also would implement the governor's plan to phase in the hay study increases. Appropriations chair Senator Ben Pangelinan had not returned calls for additional comment on the bill today. The Governor's Office meanwhile says the new budget bill along with Bill 174 passed last weekend is still under review.

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