Public Auditor warns senators to remain wary of surplus budget projections

Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz

Public Auditor warns senators to remain wary of surplus budget projectons

Former Speaker now Public Auditor Benjamin J.F. Cruz is warning lawmakers to remain wary of surplus budget projections as they go through fiscal year 2020 budget requests.

Highlighting the $10 million deficit noted on the GovGuam general fund audit, Cruz said during an interview with Phill Leon Guerero on K-57 that the previous administration also had surplus budget projections but those did not pan out.

Cruz added that the deficit shown by the GovGuam audit could have been a lot worse had it not been for the 3-prong approach initiated by lawmakers at the time.

The first prong was the Legislature’s support for the former governor’s fiscal realignment plan which called for reduced expenditures. The second prong was the increase in the gross receipts tax from 4 percent to 5 percent, which Cruz says increased revenues by roughly $36 million. Lastly, the third prong was the one-time tax amnesty program.

Reflecting on his time in the legislature, Cruz said that the last administration had anticipated that they would end fiscal year 2018 with a $3 million surplus. However, Cruz said the proof is in the pudding as shown by the release of GovGuam’s financial audit.

In addition, Cruz calls the projected $41 million surplus for FY 2019 contradictory, particularly with his observations of the current budget requested by the Department of Corrections, being $2 million shy of their request last fiscal year.