Thousands of island residents are clamoring for relief in the face of the islandwide shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Governor on Thursday defended her administration’s response to the growing needs faced by many who’ve gone without a paycheck for weeks.
“I have not forgotten our people. Believe me, our people is foremost in my mind, day in and day out, 24 hours a day,” the governor said.
She said all the required paperwork for federal assistance programs have been submitted and GovGuam is just waiting for the feds to approve.
“I am just as frustrated with the delays and vagueness of the federal grants. I don’t have control over the federal. What I do have control over is our local funds and our local programs. And that is why I have decided to use whatever I can within our local funds to advance the economic recovery program,” the governor said.
Guam taxpayer-funded assistance to those in need has increased 64% since the crisis began, the governor said.
She added that $100 million in public assistance is already in the pipeline, including cash and food assistance, and expanding Medicaid eligibility for those in need of healthcare.
And as soon as the federal government approves the one-time stimulus and unemployment benefits, the checks will go out.
“Once those monies come in, we are prepared and ready to print checks for everybody to the tune of $134 million. That is probably going to happen the first week of May or the second week of May. In the pandemic unemployment program, we have worked out all the processes from our end. We are just waiting for the federal government to approve our application process,” the governor said.
The governor said she is working as quickly and aggressively as she can, relying for now on what limited funds GovGuam can afford.
“I am not sitting and not doing anything for our people. I’m working very hard with what our local programs are. I am working very hard with whatever local money I can. We have also been expediting our tax refunds. So to say that I am not doing anything, I don’t think is a fair characterization of what this administration has been doing,” the governor said.