Guam – Governor Eddie Calvo is urging Guam lawmakers to pass the bond he has proposed to pay off all tax refunds owed to island residents.
Lawmakers go into session tomorrow [Tuesday] to consider the bond and the Governor’s proposed 2012 Budget.
And the Governor directs his weekly address to island lawmakers, starting his remarks with “My fellow public servants in the Legislature…”
The Governor states that in recent months, “1,265 people … humbled themselves out of desperation” by coming to his office to ask for their tax refunds.
“I beg of you,” urges the Governor, “pass the bond at the level of $311 million for tax refunds. Pay the people their own money quickly.”
The Governor acknowledges that his original bond proposal has been re-structured as a result of questioned raised during the Senator Ben Pangelinan’s Special Economic Service meetings.
Rather than paying $280 million in tax refunds as originally proposed, the bond offering has been raised to $311 million to ensure that the current year’s tax refund are paid next year as well.
READ the Governor’s Address or click on the link below to HEAR it:
My fellow public servants in the Legislature,
This is a list of 1,265 people who humbled themselves out of desperation to come to my office and ask for their tax refund. I provided this list to your offices with the names redacted along with this message. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these people in your offices as well.
On the forms these people fill out, they leave a reason why they’re begging for their own money. Here are some of these reasons:
“Relocating with family to New Jersey to assist mother during cancer treatment. She is alone and I am her only child.
“Help for my sister in law’s baby (niece) surgery at PGH Phil. Manila for Hydrocephalus.”
“To help my daughter pay for her medical treatment and help her purchase a ticket to come home to Guam.”
“My wife and I want to fly to Hawaii to attend my grandfather‚Äôs funeral. Without our refund our trip will be impossible.”
“For Medavac to Hawaii Heart surgery.”
“Need to go to Philippines for cardiac care that is not available on Guam according to local Guam doctor.”
Senators, these people with these heartbreaking stories are not asking you for any handouts. They are begging for their own money.
Now, you’ve been asking many good questions during the Special Economic Service meetings. It is because of your concerns and the good points you made that my fiscal team adjusted the bond borrowing proposal. Rather than paying $280 million in tax refunds as we originally proposed, we now restructured the plan to ensure even the current year’s tax refunds are paid next year.
If you ask whether you should trust my judgment on this matter, I offer you this. In the two years I ran the finance committee, you trusted my judgment and together we delivered the only surplus budgets over the last decade. In the three succeeding years, you asked for my assessment of revenue projections, I told you what I thought would come true, and I was right. I’ve never given you any reason to believe that my judgment on the fiscal affairs of this government is somehow inflated or wrong. As a matter of fact, my record will show sound judgment.
Senators, some of you have already come forward to oppose my reorganization plans to cut costs. Some of you say we don’t need to cut spending 10 percent. You also say publicly that we need to pay the tax refunds. As a matter of fact, you’ve chastised my fiscal team, asking them why there’s no cash to pay the refunds at the level you appropriated — as though they could go to the Bank of Guam and start printing money. I’d like to ask you this simple mathematical question: If we don’t cut spending, then where will we get the money to pay tax refunds moving forward? And this certainly doesn’t include the $280 million bill we already owe the people of Guam that has accumulated over 20 years of decisions to not downsize the government.
My dear colleagues, time is running out. If we are to pay the people their past-due refunds by December this year, then I must appear before ratings agencies by mid-September. I can only appear before them if you give me the authority to float this bond for the tax refunds this month. While I understand this is not a perfect solution and there are other obligations we wish we could include, this is the ONLY solution on the table right now.
And it’s not just us, the leaders, who are running out of time. Go through that list I sent you and you’ll see just how many of our people are running out of time. They’re running out of time to pay the mortgage or the rent before they’re evicted. They’re running out of time to pay their bills before the collectors take them to court. They’re running out of time in their lives as they face terminal illnesses they can’t afford to treat. Many of them already ran out of time.
We must act now. I beg of you, pass the bond at the level of $311 million for tax refunds. Pay the people their own money quickly. If we pass this bond with the budget before August 31, then we will be able to pay the refunds by Christmas this year.
I have been more than transparent about the fiscal affairs of this government and my stances on these issues. Please come forward and publicly declare whether you support the passage of this bond so our community knows what our future will look like come Christmas.
The power is in your hands. Thank you and God bless you in your decisions.