Speaker less enthusiastic about military buildup than colleagues - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Speaker less enthusiastic about military buildup than colleagues

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While many are celebrating the signing of the Record of Decision, and the expected launch of the multi-billion dollar military buildup, Speaker Judi Won Pat is striking a more cautious tone. The leader of the Guam Legislature suggests that the devil will be in the details, and she for one plans to keep a watchful eye on the progress of the big move.

Guam's governor, congresswoman and Navy admiral all praised the Record of Decision signing as an historic event for Guam. The speaker's reaction was decidedly more muted.

For one she says, her review of the ROD indicates that while the United States and Japanese governments will spend an estimated $8 billion to $9 billion to build the first new Marine base since World War II and a host of other support facilities here, there was a very disproportionate amount of money to be spent directly for the local community. "Just adding those that were listed in the ROD actually came close to maybe about $500 million, that's about it, compared to $8 billion," Won Pat said.

The speaker is also concerned about what will happen to certain facilities that are expected to be turned over. Will the local government have the resources to maintain a medical laboratory and a repository for ancient artifacts? She projected, "We're going to get another brand new building for a repository, and whose going to monitor, whose going to be the curator there, whose going to keep records of all that? So that's even beyond what we're able to do right now.  Even for our own museum, so that definitely concerns me."

Won Pat says while the Government of Guam must be vigilant over the environmental and social impacts of the Marine relocation, she believes GovGuam should also try and maximize whatever economic benefits might be available. She says one of the legislature's roles is to provide for Guam's financial viability in the face of any major changes.

It will require congressional action, but she says she will push to require companies that win contracts here, to pay associated taxes here, adding, "Is it possible that when the military gives out, put out these RFPs then awards a bid to these companies who I'm going to assume are outside of Guam because they're the only ones with the money and large enough , that they pay the business privilege taxes here in Guam."

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