More funds for Public Health on the way

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A measure to appropriate nearly half a million dollars to the Department of Public Health and Social Services is now law.

Bill 420-35, now Public Law 35-117, introduced by Senator Mary Camacho Torres and Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, appropriates $470,000 to the ailing department, making good on the Senators’ commitment to make the agency whole after enduring significant cuts in the current fiscal year budget.

The appropriation comes from funds remaining following the government of Guam’s full payment of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) this year. On October 14, 2020 the GGRF identified that of the $14,898,000 appropriated, only $14,428,000 was expended toward the payment of COLA attributable to the appropriation in Section 5, Chapter XI of Public Law 35-99 leaving approximately $470,000 remaining in General Fund appropriations.

“As a front-line agency, DPHSS needs adequate funding to keep our people safe as we battle this pandemic,” said Senator Torres. “I thank the Governor for acting on this measure which will ensure that Public Health has additional funding for all its programs, including COVID-19 response efforts, for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

“The budget passed in August 2020 severely cut appropriations to DPHSS during this most critical time,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “I applaud and support this bill’s efforts to rededicate available funds to support DPHSS and the Bureau, and I encourage the legislature to pursue other initiatives to support DPHSS through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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