A Call to Action
By Eddie Baza Calvo

My fellow Guamanians,

I've read reports of an elected leader opposed to borrowing a bond to pay your tax refunds. That's too bad. If the bond doesn't pass the Legislature, we will be left with one of two options: continue paying tax refunds two to three years late or severely cut services in the government. I spent this past week laying out the facts of the government's financial situation, and how services already are underfunded. Now is not the time to hold back refunds or cut services, especially as so many people suffer in the growing cycle of poverty.

But, I have faith in the Legislature, especially Chairman Pangelinan and Senators Blas and Respicio, who've been outspoken advocates of paying tax refunds. Senator Tina Barnes was so concerned about jobs in tourism that she fought for the HOT bond recently. Senators like Aline Yamashita, Mana Silva, Sam Mabini and Dennis Rodriguez clearly support the social services families need. Senator Palacios tirelessly works to find more resources for law enforcement. Vice Speaker BJ Cruz and Senators Tony Ada, Tom Ada and Chris Duenas know the importance of investing into our infrastructure and economy. And Senator Judi Guthertz knows just how underfunded public schools, UOG and GCC are. I'm sure these senators agree that it is better to borrow money from the bank than to continuously borrow money from you - the people. This, essentially, is how the government has been operating. It borrows your tax refunds - against your will - every year. And it doesn't pay it back to you until three years later. The government is already borrowing this money... and it has been doing it for 20 years - two-thirds the life of a bond.

Democrat or Republican, your senators know just how bad things are in the community. They are compassionate people who understand that this government has an opportunity to make things right by you. I believe that after all the dust settles on our biennial budget proposal, senators will do what is right and pass the bond. After that, we will work to float it, bring the money to Guam and pay your tax refunds by December - all of it.

There is an average of 44,000 taxpayers who are owed a refund every year. If we pay all $280 million by December, it will include the EITC, Child Tax Credit and Make Work Pay Tax Credit. Think about what this can do for families from lower income to middle income brackets. You can fix your cars and homes, afford closing costs for your dream house, pay your bills, avoid foreclosures and repossessions... you'll have more money for school uniforms and supplies, college savings and your retirement. The point is your money will be returned for you to spend or save as you please.

While I like the idea of paying you what you are owed, I can't help but think about the cumulative benefits as well. A $280 million cash infusion of tax refund payments will be a much-needed shot in the arm in the economy. All of that money circulating at one time will provide business capital for jobs, promotions and better services. It will encourage small business growth and entrepreneurship. Think about what this money can do for our economy.

The cash infusion also will lend to greater revenues. It will impact revenue collections from gross receipts, corporate, withholding and individual income taxes. This revenue can bridge us even further away from the government's financial predicament.

The bond we are proposing will pay down most of the deficit that is weighing down our ability to provide adequate services. With conservative revenue projections matching a conservative spending plan, we'll begin the steady road to financial recovery... and it will be done without balancing the deficit on your backs. It will be done without withholding the tax refunds this government is so used to keeping from you. It's your money. All we want to do is give it back to you.

I ask you, my fellow Guamanians, to help me convince senators to pass the budget. Call your senators and tell them how important this is to your future. Together, we can move Guam in a new and exciting direction, and do what is right for you.

Thank you, Si Yu'os Ma'ase yan Si Yu'os en Fan'binendisi. God Bless You.