Governor hits San Nicolas tax referendum proposal

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Despite the success of the U.S. territories' response to COVID-19, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said they have been included in a High-Level Risk list rather than used as examples for states to follow. (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has reacted strongly to a proposal by Congressman Michael San Nicolas to draft legislation requiring that any tax increase be approved by the people in a referendum.

“My office is currently drafting legislation to make it Organic that any tax increases require a referendum from the people to approve it,” the congressman said in a social media post.

San Nicolas wants to make the proposed legislation a part of the Organic Act of Guam “so we can finally compel proper financial management instead of temporary-permanent tax increases, deficit spending, and borrowing for operations.”

According to the congressman, this is an existing local law already but politicians never follow it.

In response, the governor said San Nicolas’ proposal to amend the Organic Act of Guam “clearly undermines our authority to decide how we govern ourselves and isn’t just about tax policy.”

She said local law is already in place that addresses how local taxes are established and the congressman’s attempt is an affront to the island’s locally elected legislature and the powers granted to it through Guam’s Organic Act.

“By limiting our powers in local government, the Congressman gives the federal government even more control over us,” the governor said.

She added: “As Guam’s delegate, his efforts would be better spent pursuing legislation for federal approval of our CHamoru Land Trust program, fighting for a self-determination vote, pushing for better access to care for our veterans, and strengthening our ability to govern ourselves.”

In an interview with the Patti Arroyo show on K57, the governor said San Nicolas’ proposal may give off the impression that Guam is incapable of governing itself, this at a time when Guam is pushing for self-determination and a change in political status.

“This is a step back. There are a lot of federal issues that the congressman can focus on,” the governor said.

She added that the congressman did not inform Adelup of his plan and she would have appreciated the professional courtesy of being informed beforehand.

“I think it’s a misdirected course of action,” the governor said.

In response, San Nicolas sent out the following statement: “The concept of self-governance starts with adherence to one’s own laws. This local law was unfollowed for decades and the trend continues to the detriment of the people of Guam. The Organic Act establishes our limited self-government, and now we will invoke it once more to further perfect the type of self-government our people expect.”

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