The Governor’s office was monitoring special session as the Guam Legislature deliberates the newest budget proposed by Governor Calvo. We offer the following updates. Special session was recessed until 2 p.m. tomorrow.
BUDGET SESSION UPDATE: Motion by Senator Will Take $7M Away from GMH
Sen. Michael San Nicolas made a motion to increase the Provision for Tax Refunds from $113 million to $120 million. This motion, if it passes, will take $7 million away from Guam Memorial Hospital.
Sen. San Nicolas is arguing that the Legislature needs to make the paper entry to pay $120 million in tax refunds.
The government is set to pay about $107 million in refunds this year. The Governor cushioned the amount in his budget to $113 million for next year. Nearly $400 million in tax refunds have been paid to the people since Gov. Calvo took office. Tax refunds are current for the first time in two decades.
Tax refunds used to be delayed to taxpayers by two, sometimes up to four years. This happened despite the annual paper entry the Legislature made for tax refunds in the budget. As a matter of fact, one year the Legislature pegged the Provision for Tax Refunds at $100 million, and only $32 million was actually paid.
THE POINT: The Calvo Tenorio administration has a PROVEN RECORD of paying tax refunds, no matter what the Legislature pegs as a paper entry in the annual budget. This is an especially true point when considering that many of the senators trying to make this paper entry were the ones WHO OPPOSED THE TAX REFUND BOND THAT PAID THE TAX REFUNDS TWO YEARS AGO.
BUDGET SESSION UPDATE: Senators at Odds over Funding GMH
Sen. Rory Respicio is arguing to lower the $7 million in revenue needed for GMH by increasing the Provision for Tax Refunds by that amount.
He said, “Any solution to the hospital situation will require an executive branch remedy, and not a legislative one.”
This is untrue. The Governor has been providing GMH the cash it needs to survive. Though more cash is available, the Governor has exhausted all legal authority to give more cash to GMH. This is why the Governor is asking senators to prioritize more funding for the hospital, which cares for Guamanians no matter their ability to pay for health care.
The situation at the hospital should be a concern for the entire government to remedy, and not just one branch. Everyone must work together.
Sen. Brant McCreadie is pleading with his colleagues to support the hospital. He said he finds it ironic that senators are questioning the Governor’s commitment to tax refunds when it is the Governor who has actually paid the refunds.
Sen. McCreadie said, “I think the Governor’s done an excellent job in fixing this problem (tax refunds), more than anyone has in 20 years. I don’t see how we can tie his hands on this when he’s trying to help the hospital.”
BUDGET SESSION UPDATE: More Republicans Speak Out to Support GMH
At special session, more Republican lawmakers are speaking out to keep increased funding to GMH. Senator Aline Yamashita and Minority Leader Tony Ada spoke passionately advocating for GMH, its patients, and its employees. Excerpts from their comments on the floor follow:
Senator Tony Ada
“At the Labor Day Picnic, I spoke to the employees at the hospital. And all they asked was for this body to help the workers there take home a paycheck. When people start dying, they’re not going to worry about their tax refunds. This hospital is the facility that takes care of everyone — from birth to death. A lot of burdens are placed on our hospital. Giving this additional funding to them won’t solve all their problems, but it will address them. I hope my colleagues here recognize that even though we may not agree on many issues in a budget, I think we all have to agree that the hospital is one place that we all must agree to take care of.”
Senator Aline Yamashita
“I’m elected here to be the voice of our families and to try to address the people’s problems. When I voted for the last budget, I thought it was a good bill — but then I found out about the problems at the hospital. It seems their problems continue to be numerous. They need money for their next payroll. The hospital is the people’s problem. The hospital is our problem. We need to strengthen it and fortify it. Right now, they need the cash. I’m sure $113 million is enough to take care of our taxes, and that will mean the $7 million in cash will go to GMH. They need it. We cannot afford to shut down 30 beds. It cannot happen. People are afraid. They’re getting scared. This bill will keep our hospital healthy.”