Gov. Signs Billion Dollar Budget Bill but Raises Concerns

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said that while she still favors building a new hospital, the price tag could be as high as $737 million.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero signed the 1B dollar Budget Bill into law late Monday night, just hours before the deadline.

But not without raising concerns about the Legislature’s distribution of certain funds.

PNC’s Devin Eligio has the breakdown…

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The concern Governor Leon Guerrero raised to lawmakers was their appropriation of unaudited “excess revenues.”

In a letter to Speaker Therese Terlaje, Governor Leon Guerrero explained:

“Government financial management involves principles and protocols that address complex accounting and cash management realities.

The Governor added, “This includes the common circumstance wherein payables may not accrue in the year expenses have been incurred, which occurs frequently in the ordinary course of government accounting.”

In other words, the Government runs the risk of “blind spending” before financials are audited.

The Governor is concerned that this “blind spending” will result in a deficit.

A deficit that she says her administration worked hard to retire.

“It is for this reason,” Governor Leon Guerrero further explained, “that, time and again, I have cautioned the Legislature against appropriating so-called ‘excess revenues,’ which remain fluid until such time an audit is completed for the period and earned revenues are identified.”

In response to the Governor’s concerns – Speaker Terlaje cited laws that spend unaudited revenues with the Governor’s signature on them – contradicting the Governor’s concerns.

For the fiscal year 2022, Terlaje pointed out the $26M spent on the power credit program, the $3M spent on the Pharmaceutical Fund, and the $15M spent on the rainy day fund.

Additionally, the Speaker cited the $5M spent on the 6-month moratorium on Liquid Fuel Tax and the $25M used for the Local Employers’ Assistance Program.

Speaker Terlaje also cited public laws in the Fiscal Year 2021 that spend unaudited revenues, such as the $10M spent for the Guam War Claims fund, among other expenditures.

Terlaje emphasized that these public laws were signed and implemented by Leon Guerrero’s administration.

She wrote to the Governor:

“I am respectfully requesting that the administration remain consistent in their implementation of the FY 2023 Budget Act.”

Terlaje further wrote, “Picking and choosing instead of funding all of these appropriations would be inconsistent with how FY 2021 and FY 2022 unaudited excess revenue appropriations were handled these last two years.”

With the Governor’s concerns in mind, Terlaje ended her letter by saying that the implementation of these appropriations shouldn’t jeopardize the financial stability and surpluses the Government has experienced over the last several years.

Reporting for the Pacific News Center,
I’m Devin Eligio