Governor: No federal guidelines yet on spending ARPA funds

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC photo)

A resolution has been introduced in the Guam Legislature to formally submit the Legislature’s spending priorities for American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about it.

Speaker Therese Terlaje, Senator Joe San Agustin, and Minority Leader Christopher Dueñas introduced Resolution No. 93 to formally submit the Legislature’s preliminary list of spending priorities for American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The governor has sole authority on how to spend the funds but the list is being submitted for her consideration.

However, the governor said that she has continuously reached out to the Legislature on the best way to spend ARPA funds.

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“This is not money for the legislature to appropriate. This is at the total discretion of the governor. However, I will work very closely with the legislature, as I have done, as you have seen, it created controversy over open government … secret and all that. But the main purpose for that is to listen to their priorities and to get their priorities. And I am very glad their priorities align with our administration’s priorities,” Leon Guerrero said.

The governor said that the island has received extensive aid, ranging from stimulus payments to PUA.

She said the island is on the right path as it begins to reopen, thanks to mass testing and vaccinations.

The governor said that ARPA funds are meant to be a bridge to transition the island from reliance on federal aid because of the pandemic to a more normal state of affairs.

However, she said that nothing is final because guidelines on spending ARPA funds are still in the comment stage.

And so she can’t release a final spending plan until the spending rules are finalized.

“As you know, things change. They’re fluid. We saw in the last week, that the media was reporting that these monies can’t be used for the hospital. Only to find out it can be used for the hospital. We went from getting $664 million to $620 million to now $603 million. So it’s very fluid, and I don’t want to put information out there that can be misleading or can be confusing. So I do want to wait and see what the final guidelines are and go from there. But I want the public to be assured these monies are going to go back into the community,” the governor said.

The public will be given an opportunity in the coming weeks to provide input on the legislature’s spending priorities.

The first public hearing is scheduled for next Friday at 2 pm.

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