Budget bill passes; governor expected to sign it into law

The Legislature Substitute Bill No. 282-35 (LS) — the FY 2021 budget bill.

The Legislature late Saturday night passed Bill 186-35, the budget bill, with a vote of 12 yes votes, two no votes, and one excused.

Voting yes were Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes and senators Kelly Marsh-Taitano, Sabina Perez, Clynton Ridgell, Joe S. San Agustin, Mary Torres, Regine Biscoe-Lee, Telena Nelson, Amanda Shelton, Therese Terlaje, Wil Castro, and Louise Borja Muna.

Voting no were senators James Moylan and Telo Taitague. Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje was excused.

Senator Therese Terlaje, in an extension of remarks after the voting, said the budget that they passed is not perfect.

“It still has some fat and some agencies will be hard-pressed to achieve more than the status quo. We would have to rely not just on the management but on every government employee to find efficiencies,” Terlaje said.

But she said the budget does have some good things in it, including the addition of 50 new police officers.

Some senators, however, were not so happy with how the budget process was conducted.

Sen. Telo Taitague pointed out that the senators had less than two weeks to debate the single most important policy call of this term.

“We decided on almost $1 billion worth of taxpayer money without too much deliberation,” Taitague said.

Terlaje also said earlier that she believes more time for debate on the issues would have been helpful to achieve more transparency, and efficiencies throughout the government, especially because budgeting is the Guam Legislature’s main job.

“The few days set aside for budget deliberations and the strict rules limited debate on this very important matter,” Terlaje said.

Bill 186-35 now goes to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero for her approval or veto.

Last Friday, the governor indicated that she would sign the budget bill, saying that Adelup could work with the budget bill crafted by the senators.