Officials have come out and publicly expressed their opposition to Congressman Michael San Nicolas’ plan to amend the Organic Act to compel the deposit of tax refunds as prescribed by local Guam law.
In an interview with the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero described the San Nicolas plan as “a step backward.”
The governor said the congressman’s actions are against what Guam is trying to do with regard to self-determination and are sending a message of confusion to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations at a time when Guam is working toward self-determination.
She added that the issue that the congressman is hanging his plan on — tax refunds — is already being addressed because the administration is already paying refunds in a timely manner.
The governor also stressed that the congressman’s proposal weakens the argument that the government of Guam is a mature government that is capable of independent governance.
Former Congressman Dr. Robert Underwood also described the San Nicolas plan as “backward,” stressing that the function of the Guam delegate is to move the locus of control from Washington to Hagatna and not the other way around.
“You don’t do it wholesale, but incrementally. You do not lessen the Legislature’s control,” Underwood said.
He added that San Nicolas has a mistaken view of representation. “You can write him on Facebook or write him an email. But you won’t get a reply from him,” Underwood said.
San Nicolas has said his Organic Act Amendment draft is consistent with his track record of fighting for tax refunds and was proposed in his Resolution 310-34 seeking an Organic Act Amendment in the 34th Guam Legislature.
“Not only was the solution proposed in Resolution 310-34 not embraced by local leadership back then, but we can also clearly see a complete lack of attention from local leaders today, with tax refunds flowing to their slowest pace in years and local politicians complicit in their silence,” the congressman said.
He added: “We can either slip further backward, or we can compel these deposits once and for all in the Organic Act and solve this problem for our people.”
Earlier, San Nicolas said his office is also drafting legislation to make it Organic that any tax increases require a referendum from the people to approve it.
San Nicolas wants to make the proposed legislation a part of the Organic Act of Guam “so we can finally compel proper financial management instead of temporary-permanent tax increases, deficit spending, and borrowing for operations.”
According to the congressman, this is an existing local law already but politicians never follow it.
“The concept of self-governance starts with adherence to one’s own laws. This local law was unfollowed for decades and the trend continues to the detriment of the people of Guam. The Organic Act establishes our limited self-government, and now we will invoke it once more to further perfect the type of self-government our people expect,” San Nicolas said.