Guam – There is no money in the current fiscal year’s budget to pay the $12.2 million dollars that a Federal Court has ordered to implement the “Plan of Action” for the Department of Mental Health. In addition, GovGuam is facing millions of dollars more in un-budgeted expenses and the Administration doesn’ t yet know where the money will come from.
Bureau of Budget and Management Director Bertha Duenas says the Administration has every intention of obeying the Federal Court’s order to fund “the Plan of Action” but no money has been set aside in the 2011 Budget to cover it.
Federal Judge Consuelo Marashall on Tuesday issued the order requiring GovGuam to pay $15.9 million over the course of 3 years to pay for her Federal Management team’s Plan of Action and fulfill the requirements of her orders to improve the treatment of the island’s mentally ill.
$12.2 million must be paid this Fiscal Year, all before October of 2011. And the first payment is due at the end of this month, $2 million dollars must be deposited with the Court by November 30th.
In an email response to questions from PNC News about whether any funds have been budgeted to pay for court ordered payments related to the Department of Mental Health, Duenas wrote “No it’s not provided for in the 2011 budget. And alongside the health insurance shortfall, it is an un-budgeted item that will have to be dealt with in the course of the fiscal year.”
In her Tuesday order, Judge Marshall wrote that “the court reminds all parties and relevant non-parties that the court possesses the authority and discretion to impose a wide-range of sanctions including a finding of contempt, for failure to comply with this or any other order.”
Duenas acknowledged that she does not now know where the money will come from to pay for the Court’s order. “There has not been any discussion on how this cash requirement will be met.” she said.
“Absent a new revenue source to cover the expense, compliance with the court order will take away from the revenue stream supporting the current budget and will potentially grow the deficit if a commensurate expenditure reduction is not implemented, not to mention that cash flow may not be able to support both the order and other regular operational requirements, to include the health the insurance shortfall.”
Deuanas has previously told PNC News that the new GovGuam SelectCare Health Insurance plan will cost about $50 million dollars and only $30 million has been budgeted. The source of funding for the remaining $20 million has not been determined.
The Health Insurance shortfall plus the $12.2 million to pay for the Plan of Action for Mental Health puts the 2011 FY Budget $32.2 million dollars in the hole.
Also hanging-fire over the budget managers heads are an additional $5 to $6 million that maybe required to implement the 10% public safety pay raises…if the class action suit filed by Attorney Dan Somerfleck succeeds.
Then there is the additional cost for the Hay Pay Bill for GovGuam employees which is now estimated to cost $18.6 million dollars to fully implement
However the first hurdle that must be cleared is the November 30th deadline for GovGuam to come up with $2 million for the Department of Mental Health’s Plan of Action.
The administration doesn’t yet know where the money will come from and what lies ahead are some tough budget choices with no easy answers.