March 5, 2018

Hagåtña — An effort by the Public Safety Chairwoman to raise fees to help the Guam Fire Department is appreciated, but it falls short of the $67 million revenue reduction for the entire government and we’re quickly running out of time. Each day that goes by where the Legislature fails to pass a bill providing a viable solution, we get closer and closer to furloughs and even a government shutdown.

We know this is an extraordinary issue that our community is facing and we thank Sen. Nelson for her legislation. It will help GFD in the future.

But we are facing reduced revenues of $67 million and a bill that provides for that $67 million gap is needed NOW. That’s why Governor Calvo introduced Bill 245 on Feb. 14 – it addressed the current $67 million shortfall as estimated by the Legislature — and also helped the Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Education.

The Governor also has called senators into special session to immediately consider other bills introduced by Democrat and Republican Senators, in hopes of reaching a decision quickly.

“All of the fiscal people acknowledged that the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would have an impact on government revenues — the Public Auditor and private sector finance experts included. The legislature’s Office of Finance and Budget are in accord that the estimated shortfall is about $67 million for the rest of the fiscal year, which is a little over six months,” said Oyaol Ngirairikl, Governor’s communications director.

“What’s needed now is immediate action by the legislature to pass a bill that provides for that $67 million gap. The Governor has committed to cutting costs – to include reorganizing the government – but these are all long-term fixes that need time before they are implemented. What we need is an immediate solution for the revenue shortfall – and everyday that we wait, makes it harder to manage what resources we have to provide services for our citizens.”

Guam Fire Department Chief Joey San Nicolas said he’s glad the Legislature “has finally heard our cry” but continues to urge Sen. Nelson to help find an IMMEDIATE solution to the $67 million revenue shortfall.

Senators have to understand that the $67 million revenue shortfall is REAL and a reduction in services is a real consequence of failing to resolve the shortfall so far. And as each day goes by there will be more cost-cutting measures implemented – not because we want to but because we have to reserve what resources we have.

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