Special Session Ends; No Action Taken on Section 30 Bills; Democrats Call on Gov to Issue Refund Checks

163

Guam – The Special Legislative Session called this morning [Wednesday] by Governor Calvo ended shortly after it began with the Democratic majority refusing to act on any of the 4 GOP Section 30 appropriation Bills on the agenda. 

Instead, the Democrats called on Governor Calvo to “immediately” pay tax refunds using the “unanticipated” $15-million dollar windfall in Section 30 funds. 

A statement from Majority Leader Respicio’s Office explains the democrats decision not to act on the 4 bills by saying that “the Governor’s call for Special Session was unnecessary as he already has the funds and the authority to release the tax refunds TODAY.”

As PNC News reported last Thursday, the Calvo Administration never publicly announced the availability of an additional $15-million dollars in Section 30 funds.

The news was first revealed in the 4th paragraph of a news release [see the news release below] issued by the Republican Minority Thursday September 12th.

The release announced the introduction of 4 spending bills sponsored by GOP Senators that would have appropriated the $15-million windfall on tax refunds, school repairs and public safety initiatives.

READ the release from Senator Respicio’s Office below:

Democrats call on Governor to pay Tax Refunds immediately

(Hagåtña, Guam) In a show of Democratic commitment to releasing tax refunds, senators adjourned Special Session Sine Die immediately after convening this morning and renewed their call on the Governor to end the politics and release the Tax Refund checks no later than this afternoon.

The Governor’s call for Special Session was unnecessary as he already has the funds and the authority to release the tax refunds TODAY.

“We call on Governor Calvo to use the cash he already has in the bank along with the income tax reserve funds that are also available for his use,” Majority Leader Senator Rory J. Respicio said. “He should act immediately to release those 6,200 checks.”

In fact, that is exactly what the Governor did last year when the same windfall of Section 30 funds became available. Last year Governor Calvo did not seek legislative authority as he knew then, that he did not need it. Additionally, the Governor has the authority under federal law, specifically the Organic Act of Guam as well as the Federal Consent Decree Order, to spend these funds and any other available cash to pay tax refunds now.

According to Respicio, “Our people don’t need more talk, they need action by the Executive Branch to cut their tax refund checks now.”

Respicio went on to say that the Call to Special Session was yet another political move by the Governor who wants to play politics with this money that belongs to the people. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, is stopping him from releasing those checks today,”Respicio said adding that he was extremely disappointed to hear from the Governor’s Legislative Liaison this morning, Telo Taitague, that the Governor will just keep calling Senators repeatedly into Special Session. “What would the point be in calling us into special session over and over and dragging this out when, in the end, even the Republican senators will agree that the Governor has the authority? I would hope that the Governor’s Office would now focus on cutting the refund checks instead of producing more talk and the continued politicizing of the tax refunds.”

Respicio added that even the sponsor of the bill has stated publicly that he would agree to withdraw his bill and ask the Governor to release the Tax Refund checks immediately. “I’m glad to see that all our colleagues here in the Legislature agree that the Governor needs to stop this delay and release the Tax Refunds now!” Respicio said.

UNSWORN DECLARATION:  I hereby declare that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of  my knowledge and belief, under penalty of perjury of the laws of Guam, this declaration being sworn and made in lieu of an affidavit pursuant to Title 6 Guam Code Annotated §4308, at the place and date identified herein.  

READ the release from the September 12th news release from the GOP Senators below:

I Mina’trentai Dos Na Liheslaturan Guahan
32nd Guam Legislature
Republican Leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 12, 2013

$15M More in Section 30; GOP Senators Want It to Go to Tax Refunds, Schools, and Public Safety Immediately

Senators consistent on fiscal responsibility, spending priorities; Governor Calvo expresses urgency for Legislature to pass bills soon

The Republican senators are proposing a responsible plan (via four bills) to pay more tax refunds, improve school facilities, pay debts to public safety officers, and purchase more police cars.

“These are priorities. Our concerns are taxpayers, students, safety and security,” Minority Leader Sen. Tony Ada said.

This appropriation of revenue is based on real cash that will be in the bank before the end of the month. The Republican senators, working together with Governor Eddie Calvo, received news that the U.S. Government will reimburse Guam an additional and unanticipated $15.45 million in Section 30 funds above the requested amount.

“Republican lawmakers thought the best thing to do was to be consistent. We want to be responsible with that money, and that means using it to pay bills and to invest in priorities, like schools and safety officers,” Sen. Chris Duenas said.

The senators this morning introduced four separate bills making a total of $15.45 million in appropriations against the Section 30 revenues:

1.     $9 million will pay for tax refunds
2.     $3 million will begin funding public private partnerships for school facilities renovation and maintenance.
3.     $3 million will be allocated by BBMR to the fire, police, and corrections departments for overtime obligations owed these agencies’ officers.
4.     $449,119, will buy police cars with maintenance contracts

$9 million for tax refunds
Governor Calvo has been using up cash to fund Guam Memorial Hospital. With about $20 million estimated to be the balance owed Guamanians for tax refunds this year, an immediate $9 million infusion of revenue immediately available as cash means one simple thing: the next round of tax refunds will be bigger and will come sooner than the administration planned.

“Our bill gets taxpayers their tax refunds as quickly as possible,” Senator Tommy Morrison said.

Real cash pays tax refunds; a “Provision” doesn’t
This appropriation should not be confused with the “Provision for Tax Refunds” that has been the center of talk during budget deliberations. That provision is a book entry that only materializes as income taxes are collected throughout the entire year, meaning that provision isn’t immediately available.

$3M to schools
Two years ago Sen. Aline Yamashita authored a law that allowed GDOE to develop public private partnerships to allow the school system to address facilities and maintenance needs of our schools. This $3 million appropriation provides 60% of the initial investment needed for this management contractor to execute the goals of P.L. 31-29 the “Teaching and Learning Communities Act”; part of the money also will be used by GDOE to finally put together a 10-year capital improvement plan.

“The facilities and maintenance unit will have the resources and training needed to do their work,” Sen. Yamashita said. “We finally have the initial means to make this innovative investment work, and only good things can come of this. This will strengthen the ability for principals and teachers to concentrate their time on teaching and learning.”

$3M for GPD, GFD, DOC overtime costs

“We continue to prioritize public safety as we know there’s a huge concern about the crimes being committed and the safety of our families,” Sen. Brant McCreadie said. “When we saw this money, we thought we finally have an opening to pay our men and women at the police, fire, and corrections departments for the long hours they have worked to ensure our safety.”

$449,119 for police cars & maintenance
The balance of the revenue source is proposed to buy police cars with maintenance or service contracts. This will augment the current fleet and, with the flexibility of a larger inventory, provide GPD the ability to rotate police cars off the streets and into the maintenance shop.

“I think one of the messages here is that we recognize what’s important. We’re committing this to pay off our obligations and invest in students and safety,” Sen. Mike Limtiaco said.

“I’ll sign these bills into law. I appreciate the priorities of these senators and stand next to them to ensure tax refunds, safety, security, and schools are supported.” Governor Calvo said.