Continuation of budget session this weekend fizzles out

Guam Legislature seal (PNC file photo)

Republican senator James Moylan had wanted the legislature’s budget session to continue this weekend in lieu of the short time remaining before the deadline to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.

In a letter to Sen. Joe S. San Agustin, the appropriations committee chairman, Moylan pointed out that the budget process is a tedious and timely process, and that unfortunately, in the past two weeks, the legislature has experienced several delays from having to close down the Guam Congress Building due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19 to now Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s new executive order further tightening PCOR-1 restrictions.

“My fear is that we have only completed discussions for the Guam Department of Education, and there are so many more critical conversations upcoming for the hospital, public health, law enforcement entities, and the many miscellaneous provisions. Add the many upcoming amendments, and the question is whether we can complete this daunting task on time,” Moylan said.

He added: “As I had discussed with you earlier, I would like to recommend that the committee continue our discussions over this weekend. I was attempting to make that motion during our virtual meeting earlier, but you had quickly moved to reconvene on Monday morning, that I missed the opportunity. Nonetheless, I ask for your reconsideration.”

Moylan described the current budget cycle as an anomaly with so many uncertainties.

“The more days we must go through the process, the clearer the final produced product will be. I hope my request will be considered, and I am ready to clear my weekend schedule to prioritize the fiscal year 2021 budget discussions,” Moylan said.

San Agustin response

San Agustin, however, has turned down Moylan’s request.

San Agustin said that although he appreciates Moylan’s concerns, the legislature can complete the task at hand and fulfill its duties to pass a budget by working diligently and efficiently throughout the work-week.

“As a participant in our zoom meetings/hearings, we have completed a review of budget hearings on other agencies in the previous weeks/months and this past week, the largest single agency, the Department of Education. Our colleagues have proffered numerous amendments that are on file for discussion,” San Agustin said in a letter responding to Moylan.

San Agustin said the weekend will also provide time for senators to review the budget bill and the proposed amendments.

“In light of the pandemic and the increased restrictions, it would be the best course of action to afford our colleagues, and their staff, to make preparation and arrangements to ensure their families and their personal affairs are settled this weekend before resuming work on Monday morning,” San Agustin said.