2020 Budget Act resubmitted with technical corrections

Senator Joe S. San Agustin (PNC file photo)

Bill 186-35 COR, the General Appropriations Act of 2020, was re-submitted on July 29 with technical corrections after being withdrawn after its initial introduction as Bill 184-35 last Friday.

The re-submitted budget is about $21 million lower than what Adelup is requesting.

But Senator Joe S. San Agustin, appropriations chairman, said no budget is perfect and said his Bill 186-35 COR is just a starting point for discussion.

The proposed budget restores increments on a prospective basis, funds recently recruited public safety officers, and ensures each public school gets an individual appropriation.

Though necessary cuts were made across the board, San Agustin said the bill gives all agencies lump-sum appropriations so directors have the flexibility to address priorities within budget constraints.

“We can’t spend 100 percent of everything we hope to collect and then continue to wonder why we are in a financial hole. Paying down our deficit is more than good policy: it’s common sense,” San Agustin said in a statement accompanying the resubmitted budget bill.

The measure also focuses on reducing the government’s structural deficit by setting aside $13 million for the Rainy Day Fund, pursuant to law.

According to San Agustin, among the highlights of the budget bill are:

* All newly hired public safety positions are fully funded as Guam Police Department is appropriated $34.7 million, Guam Fire Department will get $32.2 million, and Dept. of Corrections is appropriated $23.5 million (excluding additional funds from Compact Impact) and Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency will receive $14.9 million.

* $219 million is appropriated to the Dept. of Education, with $199 million itemized in the budget going directly to public schools and the lion’s share of funds going straight to teachers, students, faculty, resources, etc., with the remaining $20 million for GDOE Central. The bill also includes incentives for schools to reduce utility consumption, implement renewable energy solutions, and implement a Cost Savings Plan. The Charter School Council will receive $10.5 million to support charter school operations, at an increase of $6,150 per child.

* Guam Memorial Hospital Authority will have a total of $28 million, which is status quo from last year, with the Medically Indigent Program receiving $2.8 million, plus $1 million for cancer screening and $4.6 million for Medicaid matching to meet federal requirements. Community health centers, cancer outreach, foster children services, drug and alcohol programs, the Inpatient Detoxification Program (New Beginnings) and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities all receive increases compared to fiscal 2019.

According to San Agustin, the Department of Revenue and Taxation received $12.5 million — an increase from last fiscal year, to continue to improve collections on delinquent taxes.

The public hearing for Bill 186 is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Guam Congress Building public hearing room.