Guam – President Obama has proposed a budget of $474.4 million for the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) in fiscal year 2012. The current appropriations request includes $59.5 million in discretionary funding, $27.7 million in mandatory funding and a $10.1 million transfer from the Department of Defense for vehicles and supplies for the transportation of civilian students on Guam. In addition, $377.1 million in permanent and indefinite appropriations is estimated for 2012 for fiscal payments mandated by law to U.S. territories and Freely Associated States. The President’s budget reflects many difficult budget choices, cutting worthy programs in order to fund the highest priority requirements, and advancing efforts to shrink Federal spending while being mindful of ongoing commitments.
The $59.5 million slated for discretionary programs under the 2012 budget request will address a variety of technical assistance and facilities maintenance programs in the U.S.-affiliated island communities. The 2012 budget makes noteworthy investments to bolster energy security in the insular areas and address impacts anticipated as a result of the planned relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam within the Department of Defense.
“The 2012 budget request demonstrates President Obama’s continued commitment to the well-being of the U.S. insular areas while remaining fiscally disciplined,” said Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta. “Among the strategic investments we are making, we are proposing to take big strides toward helping the insular areas implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in assessments funded by OIA in 2010.”
“In addition, the budget proposal reflects our commitment to addressing the impacts of the U.S. Marines’ relocation to Guam,” Babauta explained. “These funds demonstrate strong interagency collaboration in support of the President’s commitment to a “One Guam” approach to managing the relocation and will be used to purchase public safety equipment and fund technical assistance projects that help the local government better serve the civilian community.”
The 2012 budget proposal will also support efforts to control the invasive Brown Tree snake on Guam, assist coral reef conservation initiatives, and support the operations of the American Samoa Government.
Current mandatory appropriations of $27.7 million will continue to be used to undertake capital improvement projects (CIP) that create economic opportunity in U.S. territories and improve the quality of life in those communities. With these funds, American Samoa is scheduled to receive $10.1 million in CIP funding, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands $9.5 million, Guam $6.1 million and the U.S. Virgin Islands $2.0 million.
Permanent appropriations for 2012 include $145.0 million in payments to Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Guam is slated to receive an estimated $45.0 million in taxes collected in the territory via the IRS ”mirror” code that are by law transferred to the Government of Guam to support its public safety, health care, education and other services and operations. The U.S. Virgin Islands is scheduled to receive an estimated $100.0 million for Federal taxes collected on distilled spirits in the territory that are by law transferred to the local government to support its operations. The budget includes $232.1 million in payments to the Freely Associated States under the Compact of Free Association legislation including $67.1 million for the Republic of the Marshall Islands and $105.5 million for the Federated States of Micronesia.
On September 3, 2010, the United States and the Government of Palau successfully concluded their review of the Compact of Free Association and signed a 15-year extension agreement that includes a $250 million package of assistance through 2024. Under the agreement, Palau committed to undertake economic, legislative, financial, and management reforms. The conclusion of the agreement reaffirms the close partnership between the United States and the Republic of Palau. A legislative proposal was transmitted to Congress on January 14, 2011 for its consideration; therefore, OIA is not requesting current appropriations for Palau Compact assistance in 2012.
The Office of Insular Affairs strives to empower insular communities so they can overcome development challenges inherent to insular areas and seize upon economic growth and job creation opportunities as they arise.