Could tax amnesty funds be used to help the hospital? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Could tax amnesty funds be used to help the hospital?

Posted: Jul 06, 2018 2:42 PM Updated:

Senators appear to have locked into a new funding source to help GMH address deficiencies cited by the centers for Medicaid and Medicare, and the Joint Accreditation Commission. They're now eying money from the tax amnesty program to fix the hospital's immediate problems.

Thursday's appropriations committee hearing was supposed to be on the governor's bill to prioritize the proceeds of a new 2% sales tax, but that was repealed this week by senators. Instead, they're now looking to tap into more than $11 million in pending tax amnesty payments. But Senator Fernando Estevez says they need to work fast before this "extra" money gets spent.

"Unless it's tagged as supplemental income, and from what I'm understanding we can't appropriate it unless it gets tagged as supplemental income, but if it disappears in the void of the department of administration, and it just gets spent before we can ever identify that money and appropriate it, then we're out of luck," he explained.

Speaker Benjamin Cruz and Senator Michael San Nicolas also criticizing the administration for not prioritizing the money for the hospital, and GMH management for not asking for the amnesty money in the first place. He stated, "He could very easily say the first $11 million that's collected goes to you immediately before October the first To take care of all of these issues. Even knowing that the money's gonna be here from the amnesty, we should be writing to the governor to initiate it as a priority. We're calling press conferences, parading out vendors, people are going to die and yet nothing to get the money that's already there. It just looks like one big show to push a sales tax."

The administration was pushing the sales tax as a long-term fix for the hospital, GMH has said it needs a permanent, dedicated funding source to address a perennial budget shortfall, which is due in large part to a high percentage of non-paying customers that can't be turned away.

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