Guam – Sailing into the sunset with a surplus may be what the retiring governor wants legacy watchers to believe. But a closer look at the books suggests all may not be as it seems.
While fiscal year 2018 may be over, Governor Eddie Calvo continues to raid the general fund by transferring cash from various GovGuam agencies with leftover fiscal 2018 money. To be exact, $5.3 million dollars was transferred to the general fund during the last week of November. The purpose? To meet the administration’s legal obligations in paying for health insurance premiums due to the GovGuam Retirement Fund.
In all, the outgoing governor took money from 11 GovGuam agencies to pay retirement fund health benefits.On Nov. 29, Governor Calvo submitted a report to Acting Speaker Therese Terlaje detailing the post-fiscal year fund transfers that had been made within the previous five days, pursuant to Guam law.Some of these funds were removed from agencies that provide critical and essential services, such as the Guam Police and Fire Departments.
Of the $1.9 million stripped out of GPD’s 2018 unspent appropriations, $123,000 came from GPD’s Neighborhood Patrol division, $284,000 from Criminal Investigations, $645,453 from overtime, and $423,500 from the Police Chief’s office.
Another $442,635 was taken from the Guam Fire Department, which includes $357,000 from their Fire Suppression Division and another $71,000 from their Emergency Medical Services and Rescue Division.
These general fund transfers of unspent appropriations surfaced as the administration touted a surplus, while at the same time asking the Legislature for more funds for government operations.
While there is no question that health insurance for retirees is important, a surplus would indicate no a need to raid other funds that have been allocated for specific functions otherwise benefiting the people of Guam.
A closer look at this report shows that numerous agencies, with essential functions, were not able to perform at their intended capacity, due to the shortage of funds. This year we heard from Public Health administrators who said they were overwhelmed with the amount of cases they had to investigate. By the end of the fiscal year, Public Health had a $2.2 million dollar surplus. It too, was raided by the governor.
During the campaign season contending candidates highlighted that crime was on the rise and that there were not enough police officers on the streets. At one point, GPD’s Criminal Investigation Division appeared overwhelmed by the high number of open cases. GPD’s $1.89 million dollar surplus was also transferred. $123,000 of these dollars came from the Neighborhood Patrol and $283,000 came out of GPD’s Criminal Investigation Division.
It doesn’t stop there. The governor also managed to transfer funds from Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, DISID, the Veterans Affairs Office, Rev and Tax, DYA, the National Guard, and his own Office of Technology.
Governor’s Spokeswoman Oyaol Ngirairikl blames lawmakers for the shuffling and the shortfalls. “The Legislature appropriated more than $5 million from Section 2718 to fund Retirees’ insurance, as shown in the budget law for FY2018. Let me remind you, that the Governor vetoed the budget bill because he was concerned about questionable appropriations such as this, but the Legislature overrode his veto and hence this flawed budget bill became the FY2018 budget law.”
Ngirairikl goes on to state, quote:
“The problem with that, is that funding source only received $1.27 (one dollar and 27 cents) during Fiscal Year 2018. Now, because the executive agencies had tightened their budgets and very stringently toed the line on cost, at the end of the year that frugality meant we could transfer some funds to address the shortfall in Section 2718 and ensure that Retirees’ insurance would be continued.”
So, here’s the $5 million question: If the executive branch really only received a buck and some change to fund a $5 million health insurance mandate, why wait until almost two months after the fiscal year has ended in order to fund it?Doc. No. 34GL-18-2609 (1) (1)