The Legislature’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget fails our GovGuam retirees and our island’s most vulnerable. These are just the first of the concerns raised by the fiscal team’s initial assessment of the budget bill that the Legislature sent to the Governor’s Office this morning.
“The Vice Speaker slashed $55 million from the budget but that ‘savings’, if you want to call it that, comes at a cost. His budget bill fails to appropriate the money needed to provide the service,” the Governor stated.
“We all want to save money but we also have a responsibility to fulfill. And this budget bill falls short of providing for those services. That’s just the beginning of what my team has found so far.”
The budget bill also caps the Government’s debt ceiling, which would make it a challenge to find funding for capital improvement projects.
GovGuam Retirees’ Medical, Dental & Life Insurance Short
This year, the appropriation for the Retiree Medical, Dental and Life insurance fell short $13.8 million of the actual enrollment cost. This was brought to the attention of the Legislature months ago but nothing was done. In this budget bill, the Governor is authorized to use his authority to transfer $10 million.
Where does the Vice Speaker intend the Governor to pull that $10 million from? And what about the existing $3.8 million?
And even knowing this, they still under-appropriated Retirees’ Medical, Dental & Life insurance for Fiscal Year 2017. The budget bill provides $5 million from Section 2718 and another $5 million in transfer authority from the General Fund. There are three huge problems with that:
- The Vice Speaker’s solution AGAIN falls short $3.8 million.
- Section 2718, HAS NO MONEY IN IT.
- With the General Fund slashed by $55 million, the question comes up again, where will this money come from?
Legislature Appropriates Only a Portion of Needed Amount
The Department of Administration and the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center directors, told the Legislature that the Residential Treatment Fund needed more money because they had more clients. Additional funding, beyond the $1.6 million appropriated, was needed to cover the $2.4 million cost.
Here’s the thing, that amount is expected to increase to $3.2 million in Fiscal 2017. Again, this was communicated to the Legislature. And again no response. They appropriated $1.6 million only for the Residential Treatment Fund.
Legislative Leaders Fail to Fund Services
“In these last few months, the Vice Speaker has criticized the Administration for having a deficit. Yet, it is precisely this type of legislative financial wizardry that got us into a deficit; they are once again making false and empty promises because they didn’t appropriate from viable fund sources,” said Governor Calvo.
“Now they send a bill that essentially slashes the budget, and then gives me transfer authority with nothing to transfer to cover the shortfalls they failed to address. The message I’m getting from the Vice Speaker and Speaker of the Legislature is that I have to figure out the budget. And if that’s the case, they should have just gone with the budget I gave them.”