Guam – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo unveiled his long-term plans to bridge Guamanians from poverty to prosperity. The Governor, in his first report on the state of the island, listed the dismal economic conditions the people are living through Monday.
Here are highlights of the Governor’s address:
* The state of the island for the most vulnerable:
o 50,000 Guamanian adults not earning an income
o 6,510 Guamanians are looking for a job
o At last 43,000 Guamanians on some form of public assistance
o 52,000 adults making less than $11,000 a year – the national poverty threshold
o Guam has one of the lowest homeownership rates in the nation
o Guamanians cannot keep up with the growing prices of homes. They cannot afford land, construction or even one of the 9,100 existing homes that are vacant
* The state of government finances:
o The government owes Guamanians hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds, amounting to an average of thousands of dollars for everyone owed a refund
o The last time tax refunds were paid in the year they were filed was 1991, 20 years ago
o Preliminary draft report from the Public Auditor shows the deficit grew by $84 million to a level of $349 million as of September 30, 2010
o Millions still owed on vendor payables, COLA, the permanent injunction, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and more
* The government must fix its finances by getting rid of the deficit and alleviating the cash crises so that the island is prepared for the economic future ahead.
* At least $85 million in revenue generation through better tax collections, EITC reimbursements, Section 30 reconciliation and plugging tax leaks.
* Cost containment measures now in place.
* Conversion of services to information technology platforms. This includes electronic health records and the routing and posting of government documents online. The long-term goal is to place more government services online.
* Pay past-due tax refunds by financing the deficit. This will pay tax refunds this year and ensure refunds are paid on time next fiscal year forward.
* Guam Memorial Hospital is improving under the new management team.
* The administration is pursuing Medicare acceptance in the Philippines
* Public safety agencies will receive funding priority, especially as the population increases.
* The Governor honored the “silent courage and kind-hearted heroism” of Lynda Aguon, State Historic Preservation Officer, who signed the Programmatic Agreement.
* The administration will be engaging the federal government soon on the return of federal land.
* The Governor will be outsourcing a program management office to manage the myriad of projects related to the buildup.
* The Governor will pursue longstanding federal issues, including war reparations, compact impact reimbursements, greater control of the exclusive economic zone, veterans claims and processing service in Guam, visa waiver programs, and binding political status commission.
* The Governor called for the island to address the exercise of self-determination now, and to work with Congresswoman Bordallo to bind the federal government to Guam’s choice.
* Not one penny will be spent to purchase Fena.
* The Governor will bring together community stakeholders to produce an economic master plan:
o A consortium of business leaders, planners and other stakeholders will project industries and workforce needs of the future.
o The information will be given to the private sector and educators to plan the future.
o A consortium of educators and stakeholders will build a new curriculum and assess the resources needed to educate children in today’s classrooms into the workforce of the future.
* This Classrooms-to-Careers initiative will have the full support of the Governor, who wants the government’s resources to be used to make a sizable investment into education by Fiscal Year 2013.