The Governor’s fiscal team has begun its preliminary review of the substitute budget bill that was introduced this morning. Thus far, there are several concerns that have been raised but the most glaring is the abdication of responsibility in the actual creation of the budget.
“The Legislature’s duty is to appropriate funds to agencies and offices to support the functions of the government and the services provided to the people of Guam,” Governor Calvo stated. “This substitute bill is a stack of papers with a bunch of numbers, and with it the Legislature is essentially telling me and my administration to find the money for essential services without a valid revenue source.”
While the Governor has ensured that Government of Guam services are funded as needed through his Executive Budget submittal, the Vice Speaker’s bill reduces the anticipated revenue by about $60 million.
In these past two years, certain members of the Legislature have introduced a number of funding bills without appropriating from a fund source.
“This budget is a mirror image of that same irresponsibility that we’ve seen in the last two years,” the Governor added. “Not only is it an abdication of their duties, this legislation ‘promises’ fiscal responsibility and funding of government services. It fails to deliver on either of these promises.”
Ironically, Vice Speaker Cruz touts fiscal responsibility yet he added $60 million to the cost of Retirement Fund survivor benefits and was prepared to add up to $173 million to unfunded liabilities of the Retirement Fund.
5 CONCERNS (SO FAR) WITH VICE SPEAKER CRUZ’S SUBSTITUTE BUDGET BILL
- Cuts about $60 million in General Fund revenues and increases or adds Special Fund Revenues (i.e. Section 2718 Funds) which are phantom revenues.
- A $60 million cut of departments’ budget will trigger draconian measures to include furloughs of current staff.
- Despite being advised of the current appropriation shortfall for Retirees medical, dental, and life insurance, nothing has been done to fully fund such need. An additional $10M is needed.
- The Vice Speaker continues to insist Section 2718 Funds (health insurance reimbursements) be used as fund source, but history shows that GovGuam rarely receives a reimbursement because it is not overpaying. $5 million was appropriated from this fund for Retirees medical, dental, and life insurance.
- Inadequate appropriations and expanding the Governor’s budget authority does NOT make a budget.