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Hearing debates Educational Facilities Fund money

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A public hearing was held on a Bill to avert an $8 million shortfall for the Educational Facilities Fund. The measure amends a previously passed property tax increase to ensure that school and library building and other improvements won't be shortchanged.

A provision in the 2019 budget law was supposed to impose a new tax on high value property of $1 million or more, but an Attorney General's opinion found that the legislature omitted the words "or more," so the tax only applies to million-dollar properties.

Sen. Tom Ada tried to place the corrective measure onto the previous session agenda, but his bid failed when Sen. Fernando Esteves protested the bill's lack of a public hearing.

And so Thursday they had the required hearing. Appropriations Chairman Ada reading the supportive testimony from Adelup. 

"Such action will fix the original intent of the tax levy to support government operations, avoid any challenges that may occur if such tax levy is above the exact amount is above $1 million and will enhance the collection efforts of DRT to meet the adopted revenue level of $38,300,000 for the Territorial Education Facilities Fund," he announced.

Ada says if they don't clarify the budget law provision it might adversely impact a whole host of programs that will see a drop in funding.

He plans to try and get the corrective measure on the December legislative session for a vote. A rules meeting to set the agenda is scheduled for Monday.

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