Governor: ‘I never said I won’t implement $800 RISE Act’

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC photo)

When it comes to a financial relief program, what’s in a name?

Whether or not the RISE Act gets implemented depends on how you look at it.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Thursday morning about the RISE Act that was passed by the 35th Legislature in December.

The governor recently said that she thinks the third round of Economic Impact Payments supersedes the RISE Act because it pays more money.

But as GovGuam has started to focus on the new federal financial relief package, some are calling on the governor to pay out the benefits mandated by the RISE Act.

The Legislature has no authority to appropriate federal relief funds because those funds are under the authority of state governors.

The governor, however, said she doesn’t take issue with the overall intent of the RISE Act.

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“I am going to implement…I’ve never said I will never implement the RISE Act. I am going to implement a program that will provide for our people to tide them over. Until they get jobs, until they have the means to provide income for their families. And of course, we have the federal programs,” the governor said.

The governor did say that she doesn’t like that the RISE Act excludes GovGuam workers.

The Guam Attorney General issued an opinion that says the RISE Act is still legal even though GovGuam workers are excluded.

The governor said that even if the RISE Act is legal, she’d prefer a plan that includes them.

She offered the example of the Prugraman Salappe’ — a local financial aid program from early in the pandemic.

However, the governor admitted that the AG has not given an opinion on whether she can replace the RISE Act with another program. Even if that program fulfills the intent of the law is more comprehensive and provides more benefits.

One of the people calling on the governor to pay out benefits from the RISE Act is Republican senator James Moylan.

Moylan says that if the governor has issues with the RISE Act, there’s no reason why she can’t change it.

“We did write a letter to the governor, explaining that, you know, governor, if you have issues with how the RISE Act came into law, you can always amend the bill, if she so wanted to, and have a Democrat senator introduce it on the floor, or you can call us into special session and make some changes utilizing a formula that can address these disparities that you thought was an issue, or you can simply do an executive order like you did with the Prugramman Salappe issue, as well,” Moylan said.

The governor said that her legal team is currently reviewing the RISE Act.