Speaker Therese Terlaje is disappointed that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero won’t brief the Legislature on the plans for the American Rescue Plan funds received by GovGuam.
In an Aug. 5 letter to the governor, Speaker Terlaje requested Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio to provide any details regarding the administration’s plan for the American Rescue Plan funding, specifically the estimated $600 million from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSFRF/CLFRF) as the Legislature is set to begin discussions on the FY 2022 government of Guam budget.
“Any information you can provide will assist the Legislature in determining the needs of various government agencies and prioritizing the use of local funds. We would be happy to extend the privilege of the floor to both of you during Session in a Committee of the Whole on Monday, August 9, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. or any time that is convenient for you,” the Speaker wrote.
In her response, the governor described Terlaje’s invitation as “unusual” and said the executive department usually sends Cabinet members as its representatives during the Legislature’s deliberations on the budget.
“It is indeed disappointing that you find it unusual and have refused to meet with the Guam Legislature to discuss the allocation and spending of $600 million in ARP funds for Guam. There is nothing usual about the expenditure of the ARP funds, as these are a once in a lifetime opportunity for Guam that no Governor, no Legislature, and no member of your fiscal team has experienced,” Terlaje said in response to the governor’s response to the Speaker’s invitation.
Terlaje said she was offering the governor an opportunity to be forthright and transparent as promised, and to continue the dialogue that the Legislature began in good faith. She said dialogue cannot be one way and the people of Guam deserve the utmost cooperation when their suffering has been long and great and success or failure in the recovery of their lives and the economy will surely impact generations to come.
“The representatives of your team that you wish to send in your stead have been wholly unable thus far to present an ARP spending plan or any part of it, even when these representatives showed up, despite repeated questioning during numerous public hearings on the budget of various agencies. They were also unable in your absence to assure the implementation of the RISE Act or the ALL-RISE program without great impediment. Surely, we can do better than this,” the Speaker said.
She added that her invitation remains open should the governor decide that the way forward can be one of cooperation and unity in serving the people.