Governor Lou Leon Guerrero issued a response to Senator Frank Blas Jr.’s inquiries on using remaining American Rescue Plan monies, to fund a possible local stimulus plan.
PNC’s Don Sulat has more on this story
“The lack of available ARP funds does not mean you cannot spearhead an effort at the Legislature to provide direct aid to our people utilizing general fund monies,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero in a response letter to Senator Blas.
Last night – Senator Blas issued a follow-up letter regarding his proposal on American Rescue Plan funding. In the original letter – Blas suggested using ARP funds to fund a local stimulus program, similar to how CNMI Governor Ralph Torres issued a local stimulus within the NMI.
According to Blas – there is still over $300 million in ARP funding and says that the current administration’s pronouncement that the current fiscal year’s revenue will exceed $80 Million.
Blas said that with the aforementioned funds, he believes that Adelup could fund $1,000 per taxpayer and $2,000 for joint filers, from ARP funding alone.
Moreover, Blas further stated that although he recognizes that the remaining ARP monies would be used to fund the proposed medical campus, he argues that the funding is needed to help directly fund the people of Guam.
However, in response to Blas’s concerns, Governor Leon Guerrero stated that she does recognize that the people and economy would benefit from direct aid and that she had already “answered the call.” by launching programs such as, but not limited to, All Rise, the Advance Child Tax Credit, along with Prugraman Salappe.
Regarding the comparison between NMI Governor Torres and his upcoming stimulus, Governor Leon Guerrero said that she is unsure about how the CNMI will roll out the program, and their eligibility requirements in compliance with the Treasury’s final rule.
Adding that Guam’s “direct aid programs…substantially exceed the CNMI’s in scope, closely track the requirements of the final rule’s governing the use of ARP funds.”
The Governor further stated that she understands the challenges that the people are facing; however, although direct aid would provide aid, the governor says that that is only for the short term. Arguing that “the ultimate construction of a new hospital is a long-term goal that will help our people live healthier and fuller lives.”
Moreover, Governor Leon Guerrero continued by saying that although “ARP funds have not been fully expended…they have been fully dedicated.”
Reporting for the Pacific News Center
I’m Don Sulat