Terlaje: Prioritize any excess revenues to support public health efforts

Speaker Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

During today’s budget hearing, Senator Therese Terlaje attempted to lock up any excess revenues collected under withholding and corporate taxes for the Department of Public Health and Social Services in FY 2021.

The proposed amendment would have appropriated all fiscal year 2021 withholding and corporate income tax revenues collected per quarter in excess of the revenue level adopted (or ‘revenue budgeted’) for that quarter as reflected on the monthly CRER to the Department of Public Health and Social Services for expansion of its environmental health inspections, its other regulatory purposes, and other DPHSS operations, but not to exceed $6 million for the entire fiscal year.

“We are being tasked to make hard decisions and difficult cuts. The Office of Finance of Budget has cut DPHSS by $3.5 million overall and $13 million in operations, and the Department is still short $9.8 million to fund our full match in Medicaid and $2 million in CHIP. This amendment simply ensures that if there is excess revenue, that it is appropriated to the agency that is going to continue to get us through this health emergency for their operations over any other priority of the Government of Guam,” stated Senator Therese Terlaje in a news release.

Senator Terlaje further added, “If we don’t lock this money up right now for public health we may never see it again. Last year we appropriated $10 million in excess revenues from FY 2019 for capital improvements at GMH and have yet to see these funds transferred by the administration, even though it was signed into the FY 2020 budget law and there was more than $30 million in excess revenues available.”

During the discussion, Senator Terlaje noted that the current substitute bill for FY 2021 appropriates $13 million less for DPHSS operations than what was earmarked in FY 2020 for the basic operations of public health that could not be funded by new CARES grant funding.

The Terlaje amendment failed with 7 votes in favor and 8 votes against. Senator Therese Terlaje thanks Vice Speaker Nelson, Legislative Secretary Shelton, Minority Leader Senator Taitague, Senator Perez, Senator Moylan, and Senator Castro for their support on the amendment.

(Senator Therese Terlaje News Release)