Guam -This address is the 3rd in a series of address being delivered this week by Governor Calvo explaining his proposed 2-year budget which was submitted to the Legislature last Friday.
READ the Governor’s Address below, or HEAR it by clicking on the link:
Doing Much More with Much Less
By Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa adai my fellow Guamanians,
In our day-to-day lives as parents, small business owners, taxpayers, recipients of public assistance, retirees and students, each one of us is a customer of the government in some shape or form.
There are services everywhere. They haven’t decreased over the years. As a matter of fact, the government provides more services today than it did in the past. And it’s done so with 3,500 fewer employees than it had 13 years ago. I’m using the example of 1998, because it is the year before the early out retirement program, and it’s the year before I became an elected official.
We did some research and found some startling figures. In 1998, Department of Education employed 4,200 people, mainly teachers. Today, there are more students and only 3,700 public school workers, a 12 percent reduction. The reduction of the police force is even more pronounced. We had 618 GPD employees in 1998. Today, we only have 361 in the police force, and the population has increased to 183,000 people.
The Department of Public Works, once an agency with over 700 people, now operates even more services with only 400. And the list goes on. We’re talking about a cut of 3,500 employees between 1998 and 2010. Several agencies have been cutting costs even more. The Department of Mental Health, for example, cut $400,000 by trimming positions and equipment needs. Land Management renegotiated its rental lease. This saves you $11,000 a month in rent. These are just two examples of a government committed to rightsizing itself.
We have the political will to make government more cost effective and efficient. We are pursuing online services. We are looking at what services can be outsourced effectively. This will move services into revenue-generating operations in the private sector and save on costs to the Retirement Fund.
But, by and large, we will need more teachers, healthcare professionals, public safety officers and more. We don’t have enough police officers roaming our streets and keeping families safe. We don’t have enough teachers in our classrooms to provide your children a quality education. We know just how short we are of doctors and nurses. If we want to truly be prepared for the future, we’ve got to be on the right financial footing to bridge us to that future. We have the financial plan that will put us on the right footing.
As a senator, I’ve watched and admired Senator Pangelinan’s inquries to agencies during the budget process. He asks a simple and very telling question to each agency: “Is what you’re asking for enough to fund your operational needs?” I can answer that question right now for every agency that will go before the budget committee: No. We honestly cannot afford to fund the full operational requirements of the services mandated by law. Not at this time, at least. But, we will make do with what we have. This biennial budget we are proposing will bridge us to better times, when this government can afford to hire more professionals to provide services to students, patients and the community.