Governor to Democratic leadership: “I’ll do the work you couldn’t do”
In a Feb. 15, 2016 publication of the Guam Daily Post two senators are quoted:
“As public servants, we are fond of saying that education, public safety and health care are our priorities; we have all said that throughout our careers and in our platforms. The plans are reflected in our budgets.”
– Speaker Judi Won Pat and Sen. Nerissa Underwood
NEWS: Budget bill lapses into law
If their priorities are reflected in their budget, substitute Bill 250-33, it would seem the Democratic leadership DO NOT PRIORITIZE SAFETY, HEALTH AND EDUCATION. Of additional concern is the HEALTH of our RETIREES, as well as our island’s most vulnerable.
Vice Speaker Cruz and Senator Mike San Nicolas, championed Bill 02-33, under the assumption that they were helping retirees. What they are doing is adding $173 million in unfunded liabilities to the $1 billion already saddling the Retirement Fund.
“Yet, they turn a BLIND EYE to the need to fully fund the Medical, Dental and Life Insurance for our retirees in this budget bill,” Governor Calvo stated. “And this is despite the repeated notification of this shortfall.”
Governor Calvo said his team will have to find the solutions to the shortfalls in appropriation created by Bill 250-33 to ensure that the people of Guam get the services they deserve.
“Vice Speaker Cruz and his committee changed the budget we submitted and now we’re looking at a shortfall of funding for different agencies that provide key services to the men, women and children of Guam. The Vice Speaker said his budget bill wouldn’t jeopardize operations. Yet, the numbers speak for themselves,” the Governor states. “I guess I’ll do the work you couldn’t do.”
It seems that ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY and the expectation that the Governor would fix the problem is the norm amongst the Democratic leadership.
The budget offers what looks to be “generous” authorization with transfer authority. A closer look, however, shows that the authority to pull money from another agency to COVER THE SHORTFALL at another is hardly a solution. So many agencies within the executive budget are shorted that the question arises: “TRANSFER FROM WHERE?”
“It’s one thing to reduce appropriations but to do so without consideration of the consequences is IRRESPONSIBLE,” the Governor stated. “This budget fails to do what it purports: adequately fund government agencies at the levels required to meet their legislatively mandated missions.”
Examples of shortfall and their consequences:
- Department of Corrections: $2.8 million shortfall for the DOC-GMHA consolidated cooperative agreement. DOC is under a permanent injunction and failure to meet the benchmarks set by the federal government could mean it falls into federal receivership.
- Guam Police Department: $3.7 million cut that would have gone to hiring more police officers, promoting officers, covering anticipated overtime and utilities.
- Guam Fire Department: $1.8 million shortfall means they won’t be able to fill 23 vacant positions that are needed for GFD to fulfill their mandated mission.
- Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center: No money was appropriated for Drug & Alcohol Program and Focus in Life Suicide Prevention Program, which require $1.5 million and $86,000, respectively.
- Retirees Medical, Dental, Life Insurance: $14 million shortfall and ONLY $10 million is “funded”.
o $5 million: Section 2718 Fund, which has no money
o $5 million: the Governor is supposed to use his transfer authority, but that’s useless if the other departments that the Governor is allowed to transfer from barely has enough themselves, leaving NO FUNDS.
o The bill doesn’t even acknowledge the outstanding $4 million.
- Residential Treatment Fund: SHORT $1.6 million, which is needed to help our brothers and sisters who require special attention.
- Department of Public Health and Social Services: $2.6 million was cut, which will adversely impact food services for our manamko under the Elderly Nutrition Program.
o MIP: The Democratic leadership also saw to it that $2 million was cut from this program to help our medically indigent.
o Medicaid: They reduced the local match by $600,000.
– Department of Education: $11.5 million WAS CUT that would have helped pay for personnel, utilities and operating expenses.
o In addition, $2 million for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program wasn’t funded.