NEWS: Budget cuts would reduce services at Guam Behavioral Health Awareness
July 10, 2018
Hagåtña – As Senators move forward with discussions on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget, it’s clear for Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center that additional budget cuts will reduce their ability to help Guamanians.
“Option 3 on the budget is like cutting us off at the knees,” said Director Rey Vega of GBHWC. “If you keep slashing our budget, we’ll have to cut back on our pharmaceuticals, and our ability to help Guamanians.”
The Bureau of Budget Management and Research submitted two options for a budget for FY 2019. A third option was added when the Senators repealed the sales tax that would have filled the nearly $160 million revenue gap created by the federal tax cut policy.
Option 2 was already tough GBHWC leaders said, but “Option 3 will remove our ability to assist our clients and could potentially mean a federal receivership and ironically, that would mean more money would be required.”
Speaker BJ Cruz had warned his fellow senators that the sales tax provides funding for a “very real” revenue shortfall caused by the federal tax cuts policy that went into effect in January.
Prior to that discussion, agencies presented their Fiscal Year 2019 budget based on two options — the first anticipated that local senators would have found a way to fill the revenue shortfall. The second option assumed senators wouldn’t find a revenue stream.
Even armed with this information, Senators Tom Ada, Frank Aguon Jr., Dennis Rodriguez Jr., Telena Nelson, Regine Biscoe Lee, Joe S. San Agustin, Therese Terlaje and the bill’s author, Michael San Nicolas, Republican Sens. James Espaldon, Mary Torres and Fernando Esteves repealed the sales tax — which also stripped away $40 million for the Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Education. They also failed to provide an alternate source of revenue to address the shortfall. This lead to the decreased budget levels that would become Option 3.

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