Senators introduce alternative means to help businesses and their employees

Tumon skyline. Many tourism-related businesses are still closed or in danger of shutting down. (PNC file photo)

A trio of Republican senators have introduced a measure to assist the Governor in the effort to provide much-needed financial assistance to Guam businesses and their employees.

Senators Frank Blas, Jr., Christopher Duenas, and V. Anthony Ada introduced Bill 216-36(COR) that will provide the Governor the financial flexibility within the Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget to fund the “Local Employers Assistance Program (LEAP)” rolled out in Executive Order 2021-25.

Dubbed the “Protehi I Lina’Lata Act of 2021,” Bill 216-36 (COR) proposes to increase the Governor’s transfer authority in the FY2022 budget from five to ten percent. “If passed into law, the Act will give the Governor the flexibility to fund the assistance program while maintaining an ample amount within her remaining authority to transfer money where necessary. We recognized that the companion bill to the Executive Order appropriated $25 Million from within the General Fund but gave no specifics. While Bill 216 proposes a larger amount ($37.5 Million), it, however, gives the Governor the authority needed so she can manage the finances and still provide the funding for LEAP,” said Blas.

Blas went on to say, “We’re excited with the prospect of what the Governor’s program will provide to our businesses and their employees as they struggle through this pandemic. Our excitement is further heightened with our proposal as it will increase the funding while giving the Governor the financial tool necessary to accomplish this. We can’t afford for these businesses and the talent and skills their employees have to fold now as we try to restart our economy. Losing them will set us back, not just as a tourist destination, but as an island that is fighting to get back on its feet.”

Blas said that Senators Duenas and Ada join him in asking that the Legislature’s leadership recognizes the urgency and need for the bill and works expeditiously to have its public hearing and brought to the session floor. Blas concluded by saying the fate of our island’s economy is contingent on what we do now to keep it afloat, and Bill 216 will be a tremendous boost.