With a vote of 12 yes votes, two no votes, and one excused absence, senators of the 35th Guam Legislature passed Bill 186-35, or the Fiscal Year 2020 budget bill, late Saturday night.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero described the budget as “very lean” but said her administration can work with it.
“This budget is very lean. It is. And so, I’m going to work very closely with my team and my directors to make sure that we stay within the budget and that we’re very frugal and very adequate,” the governor told PNC News.
The governor also says she’s appreciative of the senators not rolling back the business privilege tax because it will decrease revenues by about $60 million dollars.
She stresses she is not willing to cut critical programs to make up a shortfall. However, she is willing to discuss concrete actions to address where they would make up the $60 million if the BPT were to be rolled back. The governor has 10 days to act on the budget bill.
Meanwhile, Senator Therese Terlaje said the over $954.8 million budget that they passed is not perfect, but it does have some good things in it, including the addition of 50 new police officers.
However, some senators were not happy with the budget process. Senator Telo Taitague pointed out they had less than two weeks to debate the single most important policy call of this term.
Speaker Barnes has already transmitted the budget bill to Adelup, where Governor Leon Guerrero says she has begun the review process.
“It was making sure that provisions were in to not grow the government, but make sure critical services, critical agencies had the manpower it needed to be able to provide the basic services of our government,” the Speaker said.