Calvo heading to DC to discuss Compact impact - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo heading to DC to discuss Compact impact

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - In the president's budget request for the next fiscal year, about $31 million is allocated for Compact impact grants split between American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI and Hawaii. Governor Eddie Calvo's chief fiscal policy advisor Arthur Clark says about $14 million will go to Guam, noting, "Realistically though that almost the whole pie pretty much gets divided between Guam and Hawaii."

Compact-impact discretionary funding meanwhile was reduced from $3 million to $1.3 million. Clark says discretionary funding isn't part of the original Compact reimbursement, but is something Congress recently started awarding to help develop programs and studies to help with the assimilation of Compact citizens. "It doesn't impact the main bucket that's been set aside for reimbursements, which is the $30 million, but in light of the fact that we recently sent a report to the Office of Insular Affairs estimating the impacts at $144 million (for FY2014), $30 million or $14 million that comes to Guam, that is still woefully short," he said.

The Bureau of Statistics & Plans released the report which showed the impacts of the Compacts of Free Association for the last 10 fiscal years. In light of the staggering figures, what is the Calvo Administration doing about it? Clark says when the governor attends the National Governor's Conference next week in Washington, DC, he'll also take part in an intergovernmental agency meeting on insular affairs.

"And the governor's asked to be on a panel specifically on Compact impact," said Clark. "And I think the senator from Hawaii, Senator Hirono from Hawaii, is going to be on that panel and I think what we've been lacking in regards to having this message heard in congress is somebody with voting representation so it helps now Hawaii is becoming more vocal on this issue especially on these past five plus years as the impacts that they're feeling from the compact has been climbing."

Clark however says it will be an uphill battle considering the budgetary constraints in Congress. He adds having Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia'aina at the Department of Interior will help Guam's fight. And along with making headway in DC, here at home, Clark says efforts to establish a Compact impact task force is still in the works.

"The governor's still intent to have that go forward we're actually revisiting the vehicle by which that is going to happen and I think the governor will be addressing that in his upcoming state of the island address and I don't want to get ahead of the governor by letting that news come out," he said.

It was back in 2013, when Clark first discussed the governor's plans to establish the task force which aimed at addressing the gaps and deficiencies related to Compact impact. Before leaving off-island, Governor Calvo will deliver his State of the Island Address this Monday. 
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