Blas calls for $1,000 in direct assistance using ARP funds
The governor should use some of her remaining federal funding to give every taxpayer $1,000 in direct assistance.
That's the repeated call from republican Sen. Frank Blas jr. who says there's no sense in holding the money back now when so many families are struggling just to make ends meet.
"Families have depleted their life savings, they've maxed out their credit cards if they had any credit cards," he said. "They're about one step away from a financial disaster. Should the loan car that the family has break down, or God forbid they have to go to the emergency room."
He said he spoke with Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio who told him that the administration is working on a plan. Blas says they should use the $320 million in American Rescue Plan money, or the nearly $80 million in excess revenues over projections. He said it will also end up providing a much-needed boost to the economy.
"If that money was to be able to be circulated, go back into the hands of the people, hey're gonna spend it on goods and services on the island, the money's gonna circulate again, okay. then you're gonna derive more taxes from this. so it basically is a win-win," Blas said.
His proposal is similar to one by former Gov. Joseph Ada and his late father, former Lt. Gov. Frank Blas Sr. They distributed $1 thousand direct taxpayer rebates during their successful 1990 re-election campaign when their administration was riding a big surplus from a robust tourism economy.
Meanwhile, Governor Leon Guerrero issued a lengthy response to Senator Blas. In a three-page letter she reminded him about her $37 million ALL RISE program, which paid families up to $800. The governor mentioned the Advance Child Tax Credit she advocated for which has provided $8.4 million to residents.
Also her Prugraman Pinilan initiative to distribute over $80 million to childcare providers, which allowed thousands of parents to go back to work. And her $3.7 million Prugraman Salappe-2, which provided $300 in direct aid to more than 12,000 households.
However, she also singled out her long term goal to build a new hospital, a promise she intends to carry out. But, while all the federal ARP funds are fully-dedicated she said it doesnt mean that Blas "cannot spearhead an effort...to provide direct aid to people utilizing general fund monies."