Guam – There may be a showdown in session over two similar but different education bills. Speaker Judi Won Pat and Senator Judi Guthertz have both introduced bills to fund much needed repairs to the island’s schools but both offer different ways of funding the improvements.
Speaker Judi Won Pat and Senator Judi Guthertz have both introduced similar bills. Both of their bills offer ways to fund fixing the island’s schools but this is where their bills diverge. Speaker Judi Won Pat has introduced bill 448 which would fund fixes for the island’s schools but without raising the debt ceiling, without raising or creating new taxes or fees, and without having a major impact on government operations. Instead the bill allows companies to propose ways to find savings within DOE and then use the savings to fund the improvements.
“It allows these vendors these interested companies to creatively come up with a way then to stay within those three guidelines and then make an offer then a proposal to GEDA that GEDA would look at all proposals and find the best proposal and making sure again that they stay within those three guidelines and then they would send it back to the legislature then to be passed into law,” explained Speaker Won Pat
The bill would allow for example, a company to take a look at ways in which a school could save money on power then use those savings to fund their improvements. Senator Judi Guthertz on the other hand has introduced bill 437 that would fund these improvements through tax credits. “If we provide a mechanism for the governor a financial mechanism for the governor and give him the freedom to put together a financing plan that would work so we can do all of our schools within a shorter period of time to make sure that these schools provide a good learning environment for these students and a good instructional environment for the teachers that’s really the objective of the bill,” said Senator Guthertz.
Guthertz’s education bill is currently on the session agenda however Speaker Judi Won Pat says she will placing her bill on the agenda shortly. She then plans on going into the committee of the whole to discuss both bills with GEDA, DOE and the Attorney General. “Her bill basically would give out tax credits and when you give out tax credits that’s cash away from the government for operations,” explained Speaker Won Pat.
Senator Guthertz on the other hand believes her bill provides a viable solution to fixing Guam’s schools. “I don’t see any need to substitute her bill for my bill if she wishes to amend my bill I welcome her amendments she has a lot of good ideas which can strengthen the bill so we’ll see how it moves within the floor,” said Guthertz.
The speaker says that both DOE’s superintend ant and the Attorney General have concerns with Guthertz’s bill because it would result in taking away $7 million dollars from DOE. Guthertz on the other hand says she has the support of the governor’s education task force and some education board members.