Democrats tout bi-partisan consensus on budget

Democratic Party Chairwoman Régine Biscoe-Lee and Senator Joe San Agustin, the appropriations chairman, said the budget is a balanced one that got bi-partisan support. (Photo PNC News)

The Democratic majority in the Guam Legislature has issued a statement, touting the bi-partisan support for the passage of the fiscal year 2020 budget for the government of Guam.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Régine Biscoe-Lee touted the fact that nine Democrats were joined Minority Leader Wil Castro and his Republican colleagues senators Mary Torres and Louise Muna to pass the budget by a 12-2 margin.

Only Republican Senators Jim Moylan and Telo Taitague stood in opposition to the $954 million budget that increases spending for education, healthcare, and veterans.

According to Biscoe-Lee, the budget also provides money for filling vacant revenue collection positions at the Department of Revenue and Taxation, “positions that went unfilled for years under the Calvo-Tenorio administration while tens of millions of dollars in taxes went uncollected.”

Senator Joe San Agustin, the appropriations chairman, also said the budget is a balanced spending plan that looks out for the health, safety, and education of residents while also addressing quality of life issues such as roads, the environment, local culture, and economic initiatives with emphasis on small businesses and workforce development.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is expected to sign the budget that will take effect Oct. this year and run through Sept. 30, 2020. It will be the first government of Guam spending plan administered by Democrats in 16 years.

“We are committed to transparency, accountability, and fairness both in the collection of revenue and the deployment and utilization of public resources,” Biscoe-Lee stated.

Not all senators and Republicans, however, were happy with the budget bill passed or the budget creation process. Republican senators James Moylan and Telo Taitague both denounced the way that the budget was rushed without too much scrutiny in less than two weeks.