Senator James Moylan has asked Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to issue an executive order modifying the All-RISE program to reduce some of the burdens island residents are facing.
In a letter to the governor, Moylan said he is greatly concerned about the challenges that island residents are facing in securing the needed documents to apply for the program, and this concern extends to burdens being placed on the village mayor offices throughout the island.
“While I understand that P.L. 35-136 provides a checklist of requirements that potential applicants must provide in the process of qualifying for the proceeds, we ask for your consideration in enacting through an Executive Order (EO) some changes to the program which would reduce some of the burdens island residents are facing. This request would mirror an EO you established a month or so ago where the qualifications for the program were amended, thus a precedent with the Rise Act has already been established,” the senator said.
The recommendations that Moylan is requesting include:
- The elimination of the need to “apply” for the program. Since the Department of Revenue and Taxation has the income information of taxpayers, shouldn’t that suffice regarding the income qualifier for the RISE Act? This would eliminate the need for qualified residents to run around to seek needed documents.
If there are legalities associated with needing applicants to apply for the program, can there be a reconsideration with reducing the checklist to simplify the process, particularly with the verification of residency through the Mayor’s Office?
With the modification of the qualifications for the Rise Act, and a statement you made associated with keeping the overall budget of the program at $30,000,000 (as was authorized in P.L. 35-136), we humbly request that you do not reduce the payout.
The original plan proposed a $400 payout for qualified residents ($800 for qualified joint filers), and an amendment was made by Moylan and Speaker Therese Terlaje on the floor to increase the payout to $800 ($1,600 for qualified joint filers). To accommodate this increase, the amendment also enhanced the authorized budget to $30,000,000 based on the estimated number of qualified residents at the time.
Since the governor’s EO increased the number of qualified residents, Moylan is concerned that the payout per resident will be reduced. To remedy this, Moylan proposed increasing the overall budget of the plan so that all qualified residents will benefit from the RISE Act.
“I appreciate this opportunity to share my concerns. With the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) set to expire in less than two months, it is critical that additional financial resources be placed in the hands of island residents. The payout of the Rise Act has been lingering for months; thus, it is vital that this chapter conclude shortly, but also within a reasonable process for qualified residents. Likewise, the proceeds from P.L. 35-136 should not be shortchanged. If you believe that these changes should be legislated, then we will certainly support the measure which your office sends in the direction of the legislature,” Moylan said.
He added: “I am open to working with your administration on these changes, as well as on other critical issues associated with the economic recovery of our island.”