The fiscal year 2020 executive budget is now before the legislature. As lawmakers get ready to review the request, Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR) director Lester Carlson broke down how the government came up with the budget proposal.
In a meeting at the BBMR office, Carlson went down a comparison between FY2019 and FY 2020 budget requests based on projected revenues.
“With all things, revenues drive everything. If we are in a position to allocate the revenue levels the governor is suggesting the legislature adopts, then the allocation process just works easier because everyone is just comfortable about revenue levels and the ability to achieve those revenue levels. Hence, allocate a portion to government appropriations.”
When asked about the allocation for a competitive wage study, Carlson said that there will be no pay raises given. The goal is to make whole the employees who have gone through the evaluation process and are left waiting in the wings.
“There is a couple things we want to do. We want to restore the increments and we want to do another wage study to see if there is anything we can do to retain critically needed teachers and nurses. So we kind of understand that, so we are not just fishing in the dark,” Carlson said.
According to Carlson, they are searching for the middle ground to keep critical hires here on Guam instead of out looking for greener pastures. But is that really possible with a tight budget?
“We cut to the bone. Let’s be clear about that. We cut to the very bone. The legislature went through staffing patterns. They didn’t fund vacant positions so that people weren’t on the payroll. So that if you needed critical positions filled, there was the money. For 98-99 percent of those positions that were not funded, you just had to do without,” Carlson said.
Carlson added that he estimates approximately $1.5 million dollars for the executive line department increments.
There is a provision in the budget proposal, under the executive branch, that allows for the hiring of independent contractors. Carlson explained that some services, like the ones facilitated by the Medical Referral Office, are more efficiently provided through independent contractors.
“We’re not asking for additional appropriations outside of the areas in which we’ve identified funding for,” he said.
Carlson emphasized that this budget provision will allow for more flexibility for the governor, and allow her to use her full transfer authority in order to truly manage the finances of the government of Guam.