Senators Discuss Funding for DOC & For College Fund For Public School Students

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Bill Would Create Publicly Funded Trust Fund For Public School Students to Go to College

Guam – Lawmakers continued discussions on bill 22 which provides funding to DOC in order to meet some recent court ordered improvements to the facility and they began discussions on bill 35 which creates “the first generation trust fund initiative.” In order to help public high school students on Guam go to college.

 

Senators continued discussing bill 22 today which would authorize the Governor to transfer money from fiscal year 2015 appropriations to comply with U.S. district court judge Alex Munsons order in the Department of Corrections consent decree case requiring DOC to procure among other things an electronic locking system. Assistant A.G. Fred Nishihara told lawmakers yesterday it would cost $1.6 million and they would need to use sole source procurement. However today Senator Tom Ada introduced an amendment that would only allow them to sole source the locking system as a last resort. “The spirit of how this thing should proceed should be on a competitive basis because if we all believe that with competition you’re going to get the best prices then let’s go with that,” said Senator Tom Ada. The amendment was passed.

 Lawmakers then began discussing Senator Nerissa Underwood’s bill to create a trust fund that would help pay for public students on Guam to go to UOG and GCC. The bill would require that DOE give $75 thousand dollars annually to the fund, that UOG give $250 thousand dollars annually to the fund and that GCC give $150 thousand dollars to the fund. Senator Frank Blas Jr. asked the heads of these institutions if they would need to have more money for this program. “Is this going to be then a call or request for you to increase your budget you’ve already submitted for consideration?” asked Senator Blas. “So in my current budget submission it is not included,” replied GCC President Mary Okada adding, “This is an initiative that I support I would request for additional funding to support it unless there is something based on our institutional priorities.” UOG President Dr. Robert Underwood said UOG would be able to find the funds within their financial aid program. DOE Superintendent John Fernandez said DOE would need additional funding.

 

 Senator Mary Torres questioned whether or not this program should be extended to private school kids or home schooled kids because their parents are taxpayers as well. “Was consideration paid to the direct benefit to these students as opposed to all graduating students in Guam’s high school public private and home school?” asked Senator Torres. The author of the bill Senator Underwood responded saying that the initiative was specifically focused on public school students because statistics show that on Guam 33 percent of Guam Public School students go to college while 90-99 percent of private school students on Guam do enroll in college after graduating.