Speaker Cruz to Charter School Council: we can’t afford additional schools

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“I hate to be the Grinch that stole your Christmas but really, seriously, this is impossible. It cannot happen this year…There can be no way that any charter school or any public school can start up next September.” -Speaker BJ Cruz.

Guam – Speaker BJ Cruz was the bearer of bad news during today’s public hearing for Bill 191, a measure that seeks to address several issues plaguing the charter schools. The Appropriations Chairman told the Charter School Council to hold the charters to task on any needless spending as the budget for next year is “going to be really tight.”

The hearing was held due to special request from the Charter School Council, but despite their pleas, the council might not receive their wish for additional charter schools any time soon.

“You guys wanted a December session so you could approve two new schools?” Speaker Cruz asked quizzically. “I can’t even give the Guam Department of Education the $340M that they’re asking for.”

Testimony from the Charter School Council, the Department of Education, and Guahan Academy all seemed to support the measure.

“I would endorse and request that if possible, and in the spirit of Christmas, try to get this bill addressed by the end of the year,” echoed Special Advisor to the Governor, Vince Leon Guerrero.

But the Appropriations Chairman chided the council for the “gall” to even ask for an expenditure this late in the fiscal year.

“I hate to be the Grinch that stole your Christmas but really, seriously, this is impossible. It cannot happen this year…And the thing that I’m concerned about is that all of you think that you can just do this [process] like immediately. The administration is polling all of the departments and agency heads to submit their budget for next year…There can be no way that any charter school or any public school can start up next September. Please, there’s no need to rush this,” Cruz said.

The Democrat lawmaker added that one of the reasons he was so concerned about the upcoming budget is because the government is in no position to continue to borrow money.

“You don’t start out going to the store and not have any money in your bank account and start writing checks…this rush to buy a new car or go to Disneyland ain’t happening. We’ve got to tighten up for now…We’ve all got to understand the way that government finance works and the way that these fiscal years start,” Cruz said.

You can view the entire hearing here.