Adelup to issue budget detailing how federal COVID-19 aid will be used

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The Governor’s Office is developing a budget that will detail how millions of dollars in federal aid will be used to help the island recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

GovGuam now has on hand at least $129 million in federal coronavirus relief funds that the Leon Guerrero administration can use to pay for at least some of the damage being done by the ongoing crisis.

The Governor has not yet said just what that money will be spent on.

The Speaker’s Office yesterday told PNC News that Adelup has advised the Legislature that a spending plan will be provided to lawmakers this week for their review and comment, but it is not subject to their approval.

The administration is answerable to the federal government and not the legislature over the use of these funds.

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The Governor Monday — and on other occasions over the past few weeks — was asked more than once what that money will be spent on.

“If I could develop programs locally that would allow these monies to be used as a funding source, of course, I will do this. These are monies that are given by the federal government to help assist,” the governor said.

Among the questions asked of the governor are:

  • If the relief funds can be used to make up for the beating GovGuam’s 2020 budget has been taking since the outbreak;

  • If the relief funds can be used to cover operational costs and salaries for GovGuam employees;

  • Or if the relief funds can be used to cover medical costs or provide unemployment benefits or direct stimulus payments to island residents who’ve gone without paychecks for weeks now.

“I’m not holding back this money”

“If I can use the money, I will use the money. But I need to make sure that I use it appropriately and I’m not violating any kind of federal condition. Otherwise, all of the programs are going to be held back and taken away. So I don’t want people to think that I’m holding back this money. I’m not holding back this money,” the governor said.

Although she hasn’t said so in any of her news conferences, the Speaker’s Office confirms that lawmakers have been advised that the administration is working on a budget that will detail just how the CARES Act millions will be spent.

“One of the conditions is that it has to be used for any kind of measures, prevention measures, medical supplies, PPEs and so forth and any other expenditures that are a result of the coronavirus. So I’m looking at all of these allowable situations to see how we can best use those funds as a bridge until we start getting those federal programs coming in,” the governor said.

“I want to make sure that we are following this allowable advice, otherwise, if we don’t, that benefit could be removed and taken away,” the governor said.

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