Dept. of Agriculture’s future: Reduced budget cuts impacts personnel & programs
July 16, 2018
Hagåtña – The Legislature has two jobs: to pass a balanced budget, and to approve (or not) the Governor’s nominees to boards and commissions.
Currently, it’s unclear how the Legislature will accomplish the first of those duties. Speaker BJ Cruz this morning said the Committee on Appropriations would need to know the revenues for Fiscal Year 2019 before it can create and pass a budget. Fiscal Year 2019 starts October 1, 2018 – just a little over 10 weeks from now.
“It is imperative that we come to a final decision (and) that we sustain or override the governor’s veto,” Speaker Cruz said, during this morning’s radio talk show with Patti Arroyo. The Speaker noted that he may call session today to vote on the Governor’s veto of Sen. Mike San Nicolas’ bill.
The Governor, on Friday, called Sen. San Nicolas’ bill irresponsible because it removes a funding source that would have helped to fill a General Fund shortfall caused by the federal tax cuts WITHOUT providing an alternate revenue source.
The Department of Agriculture submitted the impact of a reduced budget that anticipates a Fiscal 2019 without that additional revenue source. Like other agencies looking at these reduced funding levels, Dept. of Agriculture said the reduced funding levels will leave them “unable to fulfill their mandates.”
There will be significant cuts to various divisions, including Forestry & Soil Resources, Agricultural Development Services, and Conservation Officers-Law Enforcement. Federal funding would be jeopardized due to the shortage of Forestry Aides who manage forest fires and reforestation for islandwide soil erosion.
“We need personnel and funds to organize and run our programs. And without revenues I don’t know how we can meet our mission,” Department of Agriculture Director Matt Sablan stated.
Speaker BJ Cruz and Governor Calvo have said there has to be a solution put forth by Senators to help fill the nearly $160 million shortfall, while also reducing expenditures. Without a solution to the shortfall, creating a budget that allows the government to continue providing services will be a challenge.

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