March 8, 2018

Hagåtña — The Department of Administration was JUST ABLE to make payroll this week because of reduced revenues. Whether or not it can happen next week is uncertain.

This could have been avoided if Senators had passed a bill that resolved the $67 million in reduced revenues.

For more than a month now, the Governor has sent bill after bill. Some had revenue enhancements on BPT, and some had revenue enhancements on Sales Tax – all were sent with the understanding that costs also need to cut as well.

The Administration can only cut costs to find savings and stretch resources out as much as possible.

“Senators have to do their part and actually pass a bill that solves this fiscal crisis,” the Governor stated. “So far, they haven’t been able to get enough votes to pass any of the bills before them.”

The Governor has called senators into special session 6 times now in the hopes that they would pass a bill. They are meeting again today to discuss two bills that could potentially be a solution.

The fiscal team has pleaded with Senators to take some action to avoid payless paydays and even a shutdown of the government.

“We just made payroll by the skin of our teeth,” said Edward Birn, Department of Administration acting director. “In order to meet the level of payroll two weeks from now, we’ll have to hold back on allotments to several autonomous agencies.”

Senator Mike San Nicolas continues to bring up the discussion of the Governor’s transfer authority – which Senators discussed at length last week with the fiscal team. (Sen. Mike San Nicolas was NOT on island so he did not participate in that discussion.)

In the past, tax refunds were used to fund GovGuam operations, instead of being paid out to the people of Guam who were owed. This administration will continue to pay tax refunds as cash is available.

“In times of crisis, the Legislature and the Administration have worked together. We did what was necessary to get our island through difficult times – including typhoons, earthquakes and other emergencies,” the Governor stated. “I know we can do it again. I remain hopeful that our senators today will do the same.”

Under the Organic Act, the Governor’s authority is to maintain costs. That same Organic Act gives the Legislature the responsibility to establish fiscal policies that provides revenues for the operations of the government. In our attempts to partner with the Legislature, six bills have been sent over that would have addressed reduced revenues – because there is no way the Governor can cut $67 million in totality without shutting essential government services down.

We hope and pray that the Legislature will realize that the power to maintain a minimum and acceptable level of government operations rests solely in their hands.

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