Calvo looks to sign budget bill before the end of the week - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo looks to sign budget bill before the end of the week

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Following the passage by lawmakers on Monday, Substituted Bill 269 is now on the governor's desk awaiting approval. If signed, the measure not only would make appropriations for the next fiscal year but also make good on some of the government's old commitments.

After a week of discussion, lawmakers passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal on Monday with a vote of 12-2.

"My initial thoughts is it's been a very smooth process," said Governor Eddie Calvo. Bill 269 as substituted by the Committee on Appropriations has since been transmitted to the Governor's Office. Calvo today says while his legal team reviews the provisions and the fiscal policy team reconciles the numbers, he's pleased certain provisions were added in the measure, noting, "I do know from what I gathered from working with some of my senators, there have been amendments that I would like to see that have come in such as the retro pay for law enforcement and full institution of the hay plan which I am in favor of."

Although initially introduced as standalone bills, the proposals were ultimately included in the Miscellaneous Provisions section in the substitute bill. The proposal would appropriate $10 million from Section 30 funds for the remaining law enforcement salary adjustment with 13.5% to the Judiciary of Guam and 86.5% to the rest under DOA including the Office of the Attorney General. An additional $5 million in Section 30 funds would go to pay the remaining 50% salary adjustments as a result of the Competitive Wage Act.

"With that in mind, if all else remains the same, I look forward to signing this legislation before the end of the week again so that we could start the year forward making good on old commitments and then moving forward with enough resources to fund critical operations for the government," he said.

Meanwhile, just as lawmakers passed the budget bill, expectant mothers were a room away as Ob/GYN Dr. Thomas Shieh was offering free ultrasounds at the Guam Legislature in an effort to raise awareness about the need for renovations at the two decades old Labor and Delivery Ward at the Guam Memorial Hospital. Shieh wrote to senators along with the governor to modify the budget bill. Governor Calvo tells KUAM he had actually sent a letter to Vice Speaker BJ Cruz with his endorsement of using funds originally allocated for early childhood development that wasn't going to be implemented immediately and instead use those resources for the maternity and labor sections of the hospital.

"I hear that did not come through in the budget bill, but that being said, I don't want to stop this (budget) bill, so all else being equal, I will sign the (budget) bill and work with the senators in whatever corrective legislation we may require to ensure that we also do the necessary repair works and expansion on the maternity ward and labor room of the hospital," said Calvo.
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