Vice-Speaker Pleased With Judiciary’s Budget Hearing

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DOC’s Hearing Rescheduled A.G.’s Office Asks For More Funding For More Personelle

Guam – Budget hearings continued today (Weds). Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz says that overall the budget hearings have been going well, however he wishes that more agencies were as transparent as the Guam Judiciary which held it’s budget hearing this morning. This afternoon newly elected Attorney General Elizabeth Barret Andersen went before the budget committee.

 

 “If all the budget hearings were like this morning it would be going well,” said Vice-Speaker Cruz. The Chairman of the Budget Committee says that this morning the Guam Judiciary and Public Defender Service Corporation did an excellent job of explaining and justifying their budget needs. On the other hand the Department of Corrections has had it’s hearing postponed twice. At first they didn’t have enough information justifying their request for an additional $5 million dollars above what the Governor requested. Then they were able to justify the increase saying it would help them comply with the consent decree but the Vice-Speaker wanted to know where the funding would come from since their request was different from the Governor’s.

 “Where do you want the legislature to take that from? Do we take it from land management? Do we take it from Behavioral Health? Where is this additional amount going to come from?” asked Vice-Speaker Cruz. The Senator asked DOC to ask the Governor’s fiscal team where the money should come from.

 This afternoon the Attorney General’s office went up for their budget hearing. The major need for the A.G. is personnel to deal with the increased load that the A.G.’s office has seen over the past few years. “Perhaps the most striking increase in overall operations has been and is the number of jury trials we are handling,” said A.G. Elizabeth Barret-Andersen adding, “I can say as a former judge that the number of jury trials in the past year and a half is unprecedented in Guam’s judicial history based on trends Senator within the criminal justice system this particular trend is here to stay.”

 The A.G.’s office says that in 2011 there were 20-27 jury trials but by 2014 that number increased to 90 jury trials with over 60 of them being criminal jury trials.

 The A.G. says that their budget has an 11 percent increase or $1.3 million dollars for personnel as they are requesting 37 new positions.