OFB: Budget conservatively, then appropriate later when extra money comes in

Office of Finance and Budget director Stephen Guerrero

Office of Finance and Budget director Stephen Guerrero told lawmakers during yesterday’s budget session that it would be wiser to have a conservative budget now, given the uncertainties caused by COVID-19, and then just appropriate later if more revenues firm up.

“It’s a more safe approach in the event that things don’t materialize as we all hope and intend. Should we generate more than what is actually allocated or appropriated, there’s always that avenue of going back and appropriating those things for those programs and departments,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero’s statement was in response to a question from Sen. Kelly Marsh Taitano who pointed out that during normal times, agencies would complain that they don’t get their whole appropriations, what more now when COVID-19 has such an adverse effect on revenues.

According to Guerrero, it’s more difficult to appropriate now and then realize that GovGuam won’t reach those revenue levels and then have to go back and put more restrictions on agencies.

“It’s normally not a practice to go and de-appropriate once you issue appropriations out to existing programs. If you’re going to plan your whole year on anticipated money and then the money doesn’t come in, then what happens to the program and services?” Guerrero asked.

He added that the budget that OFB is proposing is adequate and covers all the necessities and mandates required by law.

“There may be other areas and programs that the government may feel are underfunded. But at least our stance is that I think we’ve actually covered the necessary requirements,” Guerrero said.