Guam – In a clear rebuff to the GOP Administration of Governor Eddie Calvo, the island’s Republican Senators joined their Democrat colleagues in dismissing the latest version of the budget they were asked to consider in Special Session today [Tuesday].
Instead, they have all signed a joint letter and sent it to the Governor calling on him to withdraw this latest spending plan [the 3rd] and re-submit a new one that addresses their concerns or to explain to them in writing by 8 am Wednesday morning how they are supposed to overcome the issues and concerns they have over the spending plan the Governor has sent them.
The letter begins by pointing out that this latest budget plan has many of the provisions the Governor objected to in the budget bill he vetoed last week, except that it once again includes “an increase of debt ceiling and borrowing authority for $343 million.”
The joint letter, signed by all 14 Senators, details the following objections to the bond and the spending plans: [Senator Dennis Rodriguez remains off island dealing with a family medical emergency].
The only revision to the tax refund bond in the Governor’s latest budget is a concession to issue it in 2 phases, a compromise offer in deference to the concerns raised by some Senators that cuts to the federal budget later this year may have a severe impact on Guam’s funding and impair GovGuam’s ability to pay the bond back.
But all 14 Senators have rejected the Governor’s compromise offer and ask him “to consider separating the two bonds.”
* Raising the debt ceiling must be preceded by the development of a deficit reduction and fiscal reform plan by the governor’s deficit commission. We ask that you make said plan a prerequisite of nay change in the debt ceiling or any future borrowing above the current debt ceiling.
* It is a matter of law that the retirement fund must be restored prior to any borrowing, either for $180 million, $343 million or any amount in between. The retirement fund agreed to fore-go collection of amounts owed to it by the government in the current fiscal year, upon your request for supplemental appropriations, and is relying on the promise by the Legislature and the Governor to restore the amounts due as the first priority of any borrowing. We ask that you account for said priority and submit a revised borrowing proposal.
*. Limit immediate borrowing to the current debt ceiling, without removing the existing bond authority for expansion of a northern high school (Okkodo) to meet overcrowding needs, and without removing the existing debt capacity for the UoG Student Services Center and Engineering Facility or the Department of Land management Building. GEDA has reported that the financing for the Okkodo expansion, based on authorization form the 30th Guam Legislature, has been secured with local lending institutions and is ready to go but has been held back from issuance at the direction of the Governor.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIONS to the SPENDING PLAN:
* Borrwing to lower the deficit must not be used to fund current year operations. The inclusion of borrowing for health insurance is clearly borrowing for operations and may affect the rating on any bond (small or large), not to mention how it singles our ensuring that the government’s health insurance provider gets paid when there are so many operational shortfalls not being implemented due to cash situation and in need of equal attention, including law enforcment 3rd increment and others waiting in line for better times.
* Restore language to the bill which mandates that refunds are paid annually as they become due, by restoring the GRT set aside proportional to revenue collections.
* Restore the hiring freeze provisions to prevent growing deficit or growing government operations.
* Restore the provisions requiring the Department of Administration to submit government cash balance reports to the Legislature on a monthly basis to allow independent tracking of collections and expenditures.
* Remove any further tax credits for the Tiyan facility as JFK has been removed from the premises and these taxes can now be applied to the JFK interest payments and maintenance.
* Restore continuing appropriations to critical agencies in order for those agencies to sustain critical government services during FY2012. These continuing amounts provide authority critical to the respective agency’s mission. The Governor has the power to prioritize these continuing amounts within the budgetary allotments supported by FY 2012 revenues if he so chooses.
READ Senator Respicio’s release in FULL below:
September 6, 2011, 6:45 PM
For Immediate Release
Senators Respond to Governor’s New Budget Bill
(Hagåtña, Guam) – Majority Leader and Rules Committee Chair Senator Rory J. Respicio reports that the Legislature went into Special Session this morning at the call of I Maga’lahen Guåhan to address his third budget bill, Bill No. 1(2‐S), the latest version of the government budget for Fiscal Year 2012.
After a full day of review and discussion among the fourteen senators on this new version, senators returned to session this afternoon, when
the Clerk of the Legislature read into the legislative record a joint letter from all fourteen senators to Governor Calvo highlighting stark
differences between Bill No. 1(2‐S) and vetoed Substitute Bill No. 145‐31.
In their letter, senators express their request that the governor submit a new budget bill that “addresses and/or incorporates the following
concerns or, in the alternative, provide in writing how you believe we should come to a resolution on these issues and concerns.” (Note: A copy
of the senators’ letter is attached to this release.)
Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr. remains off‐island due to a medical situation of a family member. He was excused from today’s Special
Session resumes at 9:00 AM tomorrow, Wednesday, September 7, 2011.
The public can tune in on MCV Channel 13 or GUdTV Channel 21.