Guam – Lawmakers will try and over-ride the governor’s veto one more time when they go into session tomorrow. They failed to over-ride the governor’s veto last Friday and failed to pass the governor’s budget bill as well leaving them at least for now deadlocked.
The legislature made quick work of Governor Eddie Calvo’s fiscal year 2012 budget and $343 million dollar bond borrowing proposal on Friday evening shooting it down with 6 yes votes and 7 no votes. Senators voted straight down party lines. After voting down the governor’s bill they went back into session and attempted to over ride his veto of the Democrat endorsed budget bill along with it’s $180 million dollar bond borrowing provision. However, with two Democrats off-island, the legislative majority failed to over ride the governor’s veto.
Right now neither side has enough votes to pass their bill leaving the fiscal year 2012 budget in limbo while they remain deadlocked. The fiscal year ends on September 30th and if they remain in a stalemate the A.G. has warned that there will be a government shutdown. Senator Rory Respicio requested the A.G. opinion after he announced that the Democrat legislative leadership believed that because they had already passed a budget the organic act does not provide for carry over appropriations into the next year if they are stuck in a situation where they don’t have enough votes to over ride the Governor’s veto and the Governor lacks the votes to pass a bill that he wants. The A.G. said in a letter to Senator Respicio “Most of the government of Guam other than certain autonomous government agencies or public corporations and the Department of Education will soon if not immediately thereafter be confronted with a shutdown of their operation and services.”
Meanwhile the Governor has warned that an over ride of his veto would put 2,000 government employees out of work in fiscal year 2012 and would continue withholding tax refunds from the people. The governor has also received a growing list of supporters for his bond borrowing measure with the Mayor’s Council of Guam, The Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and the Guam Realtors Association all endorsing his plan to pay out tax refunds.
However, Democrats are concerned about the amount of money the Governor wants to borrow on the bond market during these unsure financial times. The U.S. Congress has a committee dubbed the committee of 12 that is currently working on trimming trillions from the U.S. budget over the next ten years. These cuts could affect the Guam military buildup and could also affect other federally funded programs in the territory. Vice-Speaker B,J. Cruz has asked the governor to wait until January to borrow money for tax refunds. By then island leaders should know what the scope of the federal cuts will be. Democrats are also concerned that borrowing this much money would mean raising the debt ceiling. Budget chairman Senator Ben Pangelinan has said that they would have to raise the debt ceiling to it’s max capacity leaving no room to borrow any more money in case of an emergency. On Friday Senator Pangelinan made a motion to reconsider their veto over ride effort which means Democrats will have one more chance to try and over ride the Governor’s veto of their bill on Tuesday.
Senators Tom Ada and Dennis Rodriguez Jr. were both off-island during Friday’s vote but will be back when session resumes tomorrow morning at 9am. Democrats need 10 votes to over ride the governor’s veto which means they need all of their fellow Democrats to vote together and will need to pull at least one Republican over to their side. However, not all the Democrats voted in favor of the bill the first place. Democrat Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. voted with republicans against the Democrats budget bill. So far the Republican minority have stuck together in support of the governor.
If Democrats can’t over ride the veto there are rumors of a compromise measure that would allow the governor to borrow an amount in between the $180 million dollar figure and the $343 million dollar figure. Senator Respicio has said that there were once talks of a $260 million dollar bond borrowing measure prior to the passage of the $180 million dollar measure. In the face of a deadlock it is possible that talks of a $260 million dollar measure or something similar could resume.
The Gov Guam fiscal year ends on September 30th. If Democrats don’t over ride the governor’s veto tomorrow they and the governor will likely have to come up with compromise bill that both sides can agree on or else they cold remain deadlocked until the end of the fiscal year resulting in a government shutdown.