Governor plans expanded RISE Act; Speaker wants payments now

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Speaker Therese Terlaje. (PNC composite photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is planning to expand the coverage and income eligibility of the Recovery Income Support and Empowerment Act, or RISE Act, which calls for $800 relief payments to individuals.

At present, the RISE Act income eligibility is $40,000 and below. The governor said her team is studying whether Adelup can increase this income eligibility.

The governor said she has also been meeting with her legal people to see if they can implement an individual financial assistance program where the RISE Act can be incorporated.

“I am going to use the RISE Act law as part of this expanded individual assistance to our people with low to moderate income for, you know, helping them in any way we can to help them with their livelihood,” Leon Guerrero said in an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo.

The governor pointed out that the economic impact payments (EIPs) are one of the significant relief programs available to local residents and it does not discriminate based on income.

Leon Guerrero said she is looking at having one government assistance that would incorporate not just the RISE Act but also other COVID relief programs like the “Prugråman Salåppe’ Ayudon I Taotao” and the “Ayuda I Mangafa Help for Families Program.”

The governor also took a swipe at senators who said she was vacillating on the RISE Act issue.

“I don’t really understand where the confusion is. I have made my statement that we are going to implement the RISE Act. That’s what I told the senators when they asked me,” the governor emphasized.

Meanwhile, with the announcement that $553 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act has already been received, Speaker Therese Terlaje has sent a letter to the governor “imploring” her to “immediately” prepare to distribute the RISE Act payments so that checks can be cut and go out to those individuals with income below $40,000 the same day the federal money is received on Guam.

“You have said publicly that you want to expand the program, which is your prerogative, but it is not necessary to withhold this amount from those in need while trying to figure out the spending plan for the rest of the $553 million. The law was passed since last year with several options of funding sources,” Terlaje said.

She added that the Mayors Council of Guam has already announced that one of the ongoing food programs is ending this month.

“These funds will help many to put food on the table and cover other basic needs,” Terlaje said.