BBMR: ‘There’s no surplus and we have a deficit’

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BBMR director Lester Carlson told K-57's Patti Arroyo Monday morning that the draft budget is done and it was reviewed by the Governor today. (PNC file photo by Kent Pueblo)
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Besides the $10 million in the current budget for repairs to Guam Memorial Hospital, there are another 11 bills pending in the legislature that would appropriate another $12 million for various other GovGuam needs.

All of them propose using what some of our senators have characterized as surplus funds or excess revenues.

But they are neither, says Bureau of Budget and Management Research director Lester Carlson who told reporters today that the governor is committed to using whatever funds are left over from last year to pay down the deficit.

“There’s no surplus and we have a deficit,” Carlson stressed.

During the recently completed fiscal year, GovGuam collected $22 million more than what the 2019 budget projected would be collected.

The 2020 budget proposes spending $10 million of the $22 million on GMH. Another 11 bills have been introduced to spend the remaining $12 million.

However, Carlson said that money is not a surplus and iit shouldn’t even be considered excess funding

“I will be the first to admit that many of these bills are touching on needs that exist. But it’s clear that we should not be using funds when we have a deficit. We do have an $83 million accumulated deficit.”

Carlson made it clear that the governor remains committed to spending that money on paying down the deficit.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to continually set the record straight that we believe that a prudent government should operate in a prudent manner and that the funds that were received over the amounts authorized in that budget will be used in this administration to pay down the deficit,” Carlson said.

That does not mean that none of the pressing financial needs faced by GovGuam won’t be addressed. In particular, Carlson said the governor is developing a plan to provide more funding and personnel to the Department of Corrections which won’t require any additional appropriation.

“There are provisions in the 2020 budget that will allow for what it is that we’re going to do,” Carlson said.

The governor is expected to announce her plan to address the issues at DOC later this week. Meanwhile, the 11 pending appropriation bills have yet to have a public hearing and Carlson has yet to submit fiscal notes on them.

But when he does, he said each fiscal note will note that no funds are available.

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