Calvo puts pressure on senators to act on bill - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo puts pressure on senators to act on bill

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Millions of tax refunds for thousands of island residents could be distributed this week - that's if according to the Governor's Office if senators act on Bill 187 immediately.

"This is great news and I'm surprised that anyone is getting angry about it," said the governor, referring to

The unexpected announcement of over $15 million in Section 30 money greenlit for use and already in the bank. Senators, specifically the Republican minority, have since introduced four bills proposing how to use that money including Senator Chris Duenas's Bill 187 authorizing $9 million to pay for tax refunds. "I hardly embrace this legislation and I look forward to all the senators voting for it. I can't see how you don't vote for it, great bill," he said.

Governor Calvo thinks Bill 187 is so great that he not only has endorsed it but also announced late yesterday that 6,200 could get their tax refunds this week if the legislature goes into session to pass this measure. He adds the Administration will release another $6 million in the income tax reserve for a total of $15 million in payments. All of this, he says, is cash in the bank. "If we can do it this week, I'll get it going by hopefully Friday or early next week but we need them to move forward on this," he said. "I'm sure that all the taxpayers would appreciate the senators moving quickly on this."

Committee on Rules chair majority leader Senator Rory Respicio meanwhile noted that Bill 187 along with the three other measures were referred to the Committee on Appropriations however with reservations. As we reported, he said the legislature's legal counsel had advised that although the proposed appropriations are made from 2014 Section 30 tax revenues, these bills do not make any amendments to the FY2014 revenue estimate in the recently enacted budget law indicating additional revenue. He says the bills could potentially create a conflict with existing statutes, violate Guam code and thereby be rendered inoperative.

Governor Calvo instead says these bills are no brainer, saying, "Some of the senators are confused, especially the Democrats. they don't understand that this is not for looking toward 2014 budget and the 2013 tax refunds, these are refunds that are already owed and due and payable for this year."

The Governor Office's further notes that the democrats are "comparing apples to oranges" as the Administration state the provision in the FY2014 budget is for Tax Year 2013 and that the Republican senators are trying to speed up the payment of this year's Tax Year 2012 and prior refunds.

So with the urgent call for action, will governor once again be calling senators into special session to discuss this measure? "Again, I'll be talking with the senators and hopefully they can work this thing out but we don't want to waste any time on this," he said.

According to a release from the Governor's Office, the 6,200 people would account for those who filed by April 8. If the $15 million total is paid out this week, the government will be far ahead of schedule to pay all remaining Tax Year 2012 in accordance to the injunction. As of September 9, $27 million remains to be paid for all Status-A refunds filed this year inclusive of prior year refunds that were filed only recently.

Governor Eddie Calvo late this afternoon called lawmakers into special session to deliberate on the four separate bills introduced by the Republicans. Again the those bill would use $9 million of the Section 30 monies to pay for tax refunds, $3 million to fund public/private partnerships for school facilities renovation and maintenance, $3 million allocated by BBMR to the fire, police, and corrections departments for overtime obligations owed and close to $450,000 to buy police cars with maintenance contracts. The governor called senators into a special session for Wednesday at 10 in the morning.

Meanwhile Senator Ben Pangelinan has proposed his own ideas for the Section 30 money including using it for a tax rebate program and pay off GMH's vendor obligations. Pangelinan has yet to return repeated calls and email messages on the matter, but KUAM has learned that he left off-island to a conference in California. Speaker Judi Won Pat's office meanwhile has confirmed that lawmakers will be going into session next week Tuesday however no agenda has been set just yet.

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