Lawmakers went into session this morning to discuss some bills that they have deemed as time sensitive for example a bill that funds the purchase of ballot tabulators for this upcoming election and some other bills that deal with appropriations like Senator Ben Pangelinan’s Bill 309 which appropriates what he believes will be a $20 million dollar windfall of Section 30 funding.
Session began this morning with Senator Rory Respicio’s Bill 334 which would appropriate $134 thousand dollars to allow the Guam Election Commission to purchase new ballot tabulators.”Madame Speaker time is of the essence because as you know we have a general and primary election and based on the Guam Election Commission’s time lines they are in dire need of this legislative appropriation and if the Governor also sees fit and signs it they will be able to move forward with the awarding of this bid pursuant to the bid that they’ve issued and so I ask for my colleagues to support Bill 334-3fls as substituted by the committee on appropriations,” said Senator Respicio.
The appropriation for the tabulators will come out of the SAR fund which is the excess revenues collected over and above the projected revenue collections. Senator Brant McCreadie preferred an amendment to bill 334 to also pay out overtime to law enforcement officers. “This is a must if we which I do believe we should buy new tabulators for the Guam Election Commission then by all means we should be paying overtime for our public safety officials who risk their lives everyday to protect us,” said Senator McCreadie.
However the Speaker ruled that Senator McCreadie’s amendment was not germane and when McCreadie tried to overrule the Speaker’s decision he lacked the 8 votes necessary. Instead Senator McCreadie quickly introduced Bill 350 which appropriates money from the SAR fund to pay out overtime to law enforcement officers but that bill is not on the session agenda and will need a public hearing.
Bill 334 was then sent to the 3rd reading file. Senator Frank Aguon Jr.s’ Bill 307 was discussed. It’s a measure that would allow the Judiciary to pay salary and benefit increases for non-law enforcement employees of the judiciary. “This would allow the judiciary to effectuate and to implement the competitive wage program starting in June once this legislation should the Governor sign it into law prospectively for the balance of the fiscal year,” said Senator Aguon.
This afternoon Senators began discussing Senator Ben Pangelinan’s controversial Bill 309. The measure appropriates $20 million dollars in additional Section 30 funding. Senator Pangelinan says Federal officials have confirmed with him that Guam will be getting this money however the administration has contended that they are not sure if they will be getting this funding. “There is a pattern of the administration not being forthcoming with any of these additional revenues,” said Senator Pangelinan.
“In FY 2014 the additional revenues realized from the adopted revenues and the presented revenues in the Governor’s budget submission was over $15 million dollars that was over and above those revenue collections and just this fiscal year we received in February of 2014 an additional $1.1 million dollars in Section 30 money which once again was not shared with the legislature,” said Senator Pangelinan.
This afternoon Senator Pangelinan issued a release stating that Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has confirmed that Guam should be expecting a windfall of section 30 funding.