Blaz's confirmation on hold pending tax refunds - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Blaz's confirmation on hold pending tax refunds

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Despite enduring a very heated confrontation with lawmakers during his confirmation hearing last week, acting Department of Administration director Tony Blaz is notably absent from this current session agenda. That's because one senator has decided to hold off on Blaz's confirmation until tax refunds are paid.    

Senator Michael San Nicolas says he will not move forward with the confirmation of Blaz as the director of DOA just yet. Prior to Blaz's March 12 confirmation hearing, San Nicolas raised several concerns over a significant drop in deposits into the Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund. San Nicolas says despite Blaz stating they were being compliant with the law, he was unsure how much DOA had been depositing into the account. In turn, San Nicolas, who has oversight over DOA, says he would not move forward with Blaz's confirmation unless a deposit is made into the account within the next 30 working days and tax refunds are paid out.

Governor Eddie Calvo in response questions the delay, saying, "It's another partisan act that Senator San Nicolas is pulling on our administration, just to - for whatever reason - to make trouble or make a crisis when there is no crisis."

It was on February 20 when tax refunds were last paid out, $1.3 million for those who filed up to January 16. Governor Calvo says tax refunds are being paid out on time, noting there was a time when tax refunds were 60 months delayed and now it's more like 60 days instead. "I think our administration, our fiscal team, has done a terrific job in getting out tax refunds," said the chief executive. "So with that, I'm hopeful that Senator San Nicolas could stop playing politics, get his ratified and then call whatever hearings you want to have, and then sit down with us and we'll talk to you and our administration will get to you our payment plan on paying out the tax refunds."

So when exactly will tax refunds be paid out? Blaz in a statement to KUAM News says he actually met with San Nicolas on Tuesday where the democratic senator asked the same thing. Blaz says "That April is when collections are at its peak and refunds are paid accordingly as this administration has been doing." Blaz says while they might have a few disagreements along the way, he's glad that San Nicolas shares the same goal of paying out refunds. He says, "At the end of the day, the governor has said paying tax refunds will get done and we've been able to do that, while also making sure that our government continues to operate smoothly."

San Nicolas in the meantime says, "We need to recognize that in the last few years, we have used borrowed money to help pay for tax refunds. Going forward, in order for tax refunds to always be paid on time year after year, we need to ensure that DO is depositing the required amount."

In the meantime, Senator Tommy Morrison sent a letter to Senator San Nicolas today, urging him to reconsider his decision to withhold Blaz's confirmation. Morrison says holding Blaz's nomination hostage sets a dangerous precedent and calls for consideration instead by the full legislature. He says "unnecessary discourse is being created among several senators and some members in the community" and that Blaz's nomination "should not be withheld for anyone's personal or political agenda."

San Nicolas in response says contrary to Morrison's opinion, he believes discussion is necessary and the precedence of holding nominees accountable to our people is very proper.

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