Guam – A public hearing was held on Speaker BJ Cruz’s bill 22 or substitute biennial budget bill. The hearing was required because the substitute version is significantly different from the original version.
Several GovGuam agencies showed up to testify and essentially make their pitch for the piece of the pie. Although it’s not the first time this has been done, this budget bill is different than most in that it is a biennial budget.
Acting BBMR Director Lester Carlson spoke on behalf of the administration saying that BBMR is concerned about the appropriation of $5.8 million dollars from 7 special funds that are usually pegged as continuing appropriations. “Including the banking and insurance enforcement fund, health professional licensing office revolving fund, office of vital statistics revolving fund, pesticide management fund, police patrol and equipment revolving fund, the recycling revolving fund and the limited gaming fund,” said Carlson. The acting BBMR Director added that these special funds pay for things vacancies at Public Health, DOC’s food services contract, vacancies at DPR and vacancies at GPD.
Speaker Cruz says that they decided to roll over the budgets for every department which means every department should get the same amount of money they are getting now. Special funds were then appropriated to the agencies that the funds were created for. “The reason we did that, we were seeing that in a lot of these special funds that weren’t being appropriated that they were being transferred out,” said Speaker Cruz.
UOG President Dr. Robert Underwood said the roll over budget was a concern but the real concern was getting the actual cash they are budgeted. “Our greatest concern continues to be that we actually get the budgeted amount,” said Dr. Underwood.
Chief of Police J.I. Cruz said he was concerned about the loss of some special funds that were going to GPD. Cruz says this would mean a $2.7 million shortfall. “Now, what kind of impact does that have to the Guam Police department? It means then that for the special funds civilian positions that are currently under recruitment may not be realized,” said Chief Cruz.
Speaker Cruz responded saying they came up with the roll over budget after seeing a BBMR 9 plus 3 report that shows several agencies including GPD will likely spend less money than they were appropriated for FY17. The 9 plus 3 report is a report of the last 9 months of expenditures and the estimated expenditures for the remaining 3 months of the fiscal year.
BBMR in turn said the 9 plus 3 report did not take into account expenditures from special appropriations. Speaker Cruz said he and the OFB staff felt that the 9 plus 3 report may have been padded to show higher projected or estimated expenditures for the last three months but BBMR contends that there are actually more expenditures that are not included in the 9 plus 3 report.