Guam – Committee on Rules Chairman Senator Rory Respicio joined in the defense of the legislature’s use of lapsed funds today [Wednesday] telling PNC News that the practice is necessary for a budget starved legislature. And he defended his decision to hire the son of former Senator Frank Aguon Jr.
PNC News incorrectly reported on Tuesday night that former Senator Frank Aguon Jr. turned over his lapsed funds to Senator Palacios, he did not.
Committee on Rules Chairman Senator Rory Respicio said “The lapsed funds that Senator Aguon had, some of it was transferred to myself and some of it was transferred to Senator Barnes … not to Senator Palacios.”
Senator Respico said he received about $25-thousand dollars of former Senator Aguon’s lapsed funds. Senator Muna-Barnes got about $10-thousand.
Respicio said there was nothing un-ethcial or illegal about the transfer. Former Senator Aguon owed Senator Respicio for funding and support that he (Respico) had provide to Aguon during his term. And Aguon paid back his debt. Its the way the legislative process works.
“Senator Aguon and I have been serving in the Legislature since the 27th Guam Legislature. And so what I have done over the terms if I see a Senator falling short, I would give them some money with the understanding that when things get better for you, if for some reasons a staff moves on or your financial condition improves that you can return that money to me. So that’s what happened with Senator Aguon. He finally realized enough lapses to make good on a commitment that we had over the last 8 years.”
Respicio also acknowledged that he hired former Senator Aguon’s son, but strongly denied any suggestion that it was in exchange for the lapsed funds.
“Admitedly its a slippery slop. Because at the same time that I’m in receipt of these lapsed funds, I’ve also at the same time hired his son, Frank the third. But I think those are apples and oranges. I know it seems like this money, if one-plus-one equals two, I don’t think it adds up in this case, cause I reconciled in my mind that I’d use my own budget to hire his son. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong.”
Sitting Senators who are returned to office retain their lapsed funds, carrying them over into their new term, for use as they see fit.
According to a list provided by Senator Respicio, Senator’s Palacios and Pangelinan have built up lapsed fund reserves of more than $150-thousand dollars. Senator Tony Ada and Speaker Won Pat each have carried over more than $70-thousand.
But when a Senator leaves the legislature, either by choice or lack of votes, their lapsed funds pass to the control of the Central Legislative Office with disbursement administered by Senator Respicio’s Committee on Rules.
Among the former Senators, Telo Taitague had $38-thousand-836 dollars in lapses. James Espaldon had only $449 dollars left when his term ended. Eddie Calvo had $12-thousand-373 in lapsed funds. And Aguon’s total on the list is only $4-thousand-456 because, as Senator Respico said, $35-thousand has already been transferred to Senators Muna-Barnes and Respicio himself.
Respico disagrees with those who argue lapsed funds should be returned to the General Fund given the current fiscal crisis “because the legislature is also facing our own shortfalls. Lapsed funds are unlike an appropriation. The money that we get from the Executive Branch based on our apprpriated leves is cash. So if you see that I have “x” amount of money in lapses, that’s cash. So the following term if we don’t get our budget allotments on time .. we use all of these cash reserves to carry us through pay day to pay day. So for us its hand to mouth.”
out: 48:34″…nad to mouth.”
kk pnc news.