Guam – Governor Eddie Calvo has sent over a new budget bill that he hopes lawmakers will view as an earnest attempt at a compromise. The governor has proposed borrowing the $343 million dollars in two phases one now and one next year after February. While some Democrat Senators still have some concerns with this proposal the Republican legislative leadership is confident that they are getting close to a resolution on the budget.
“This is something that I did not want to do but it’s the best alternative to what we have potentially in front of us I’ve made a commitment that we are not gonna have this government shutdown,” said Governor Calvo. Thus the governor has proposed a new budget with a $239 million dollar bond borrowing request for tax refunds as opposed to his $343 million dollar request. This will pay out all past due tax refunds for the year 2010 and prior. “Well it will get us up to 2011 the second series will get us up to $30 million of 2011 I wish we could get it all but this is all about compromise it’s very difficult for me.”
The new budget bill would also authorize the governor to borrow the rest of the money needed for tax refunds in February as Democrat Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz had requested. However, Senator Cruz still has some concerns with this provision. “I’m a little concerned that the way the bill is written it says that it can be issued after February 1st. I will be proposing an amendment where series b would not be issued unless the governor’s deficit elimination and tax reduction commission that he established by executive order has had a chance to review everything that has happened with the U.S. congress and has determined that anticipated revenues and the military buildup would be going forward and we would not be affected by this,” said Vice-Speaker Cruz.
The new bond borrowing proposal would also pay $20 million to COLA. “We thought another area where we can work collaboratively is paying off the COLA amount. These manamko’ are dying every day so let’s come to final resolution in it it’s an obligation to manamko’ to retirees that we can finally look at as ancient history it is over. This is something I also believe that Senator Pangelinan has been pushing so hard for so again I’m hoping that he would look at our bill looking at our willingness to compromise,” said Governor Calvo.
Budget Chairman Senator Ben Pangelinan looks at the bill differently saying, “I don’t think it’s a real compromise because it still requires that we raise the debt limit to 100 percent and max it out it still requires that we borrow $343 million dollars and it still does not resolve some of the other issues like the retirement fund debt that by statute has to be paid.”
The Republican minority leadership believes that the governor’s new bill is a good compromise and they are for the most part satisfied with it. However, they have heard the concerns of the Democrat majority and want to work on a compromise that all sides can agree on. “I think those concerns should be forwarded to the governor so that we can keep the dialogue open,” said Republican Senator Chris Duenas adding, “So that he’s a part of the process and when we get to the final resolution everybody’s on board.”
“There were discussions earlier in the morning with regards to communications with the governor with regard to some of the concerns the body is discussing and would appreciate some input from the governor with regards to how can we work pass this you know what are you amenable to in dealing with some of these issues and I think its a great start it’s a great place to be in as far as getting to a compromise,” said Republican Minority Leader Frank Blas Jr. adding, “I think at the end of the day we all want to see that this issue is finally laid to rest and there is money to operate the government of Guam to provide those services necessary but at the same time recognizing the need to pay people back their tax refunds.”
Lawmakers have to consider this new budget bill from the governor first before they can consider an override of the veto of the budget bill Democrats were able to pass. The governor says that an override of his veto would be disastrous.