Moylan: Federal guidelines are clear on use of ARP money to fund RISE payments

Senator James Moylan (PNC file photo)

Senator James Moylan on Tuesday sent a letter to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero telling the governor that federal guidelines are clear on the use of ARP money to fund RISE payments and she should do so as soon as possible.

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“You have repeatedly gone on record stating that proceeds from the Rise Act (or the ‘All Rise Act’ as you created through Executive Order 2021-11) will not be paid out until final guidelines are provided by the US Treasury regarding how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds can be spent by states and territories,” Moylan wrote.

However, Moylan said the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the federal guidelines were provided on July 19, 2021, to all recipients, which included this provision:

“2.6. May recipients use funds to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts by providing direct cash transfers to households?

Yes, provided the recipient considers whether, and the extent to which, the household has experienced a negative economic impact from the pandemic. Additionally, cash transfers must be reasonably proportional to the negative economic impact they are intended to address. Cash transfers grossly in excess of the amount needed to address the negative economic impact identified by the recipient would not be considered to be a response to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative impacts. In particular, when considering appropriate size of permissible cash transfers made in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments may consider and take guidance from the per person amounts previously provided by the federal government in response to the COVID crisis.”

From the above statement, Moylan said it is evidently clear that the Government of Guam can indeed use the ARP funds in providing direct cash transfers to households.

Molan said the guidelines further state that when determining the amount of the payout, the local government may consider an amount previously provided by the federal government in response to the crisis. Therefore, since the ARP did indeed provide individuals $1,400 at the start of the year, it is certainly possible to provide $800 to $1,000 with the Rise Act (or All Rise Act), Moylan said.

“I would once again like to request that your administration not only start the process of paying out the proceeds to qualified applicants, but also to enact via an Executive Order, revisions to your ‘All Rise Act’, which would address the concerns of the community. I am attaching Substitute Bill 75-36, which was provided to the Committee on General Governmental Operations and Appropriations last week, which took into consideration the many comments and testimonies from island residents, along with the over 500 signatories collected over a weekend. This can be a model for the revised program, and as you stated in E.O. 2021-11, the assistance “would have a more significant impact on the financial well-being of our community,” Moylan said.

The senator said it is unfortunate that island residents are being placed in such predicaments, particularly with needing to stand in long lines to attain a verification, which should have no bearing on qualifying for the stimulus plan.

“This is unacceptable and certainly not fair for the qualified individuals … Governor, the guidelines are noticeably clear, and the money is in the bank, so please get the process moving and pay out the proceeds of the ‘Rise Act’ or the ‘All Rise Act’. This request is not about politicizing the issue, but about making sure the stimulus plan is paid out in a simple, convenient, and expeditious manner. Island residents deserve no less,” Moylan concluded.