Hagåtña, Guam – The Office of the Governor issues the following statement regarding misinformation stated by Delegate Michael San Nicolas and certain senators concerning eligible uses of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds:
“It has been suggested that our Administration should exploit Guam’s categorization as a ‘disproportionately impacted community’ to simply stand on Marine Drive and hand out checks to everyone who drives by. The hallmark of this Administration has been fiscal responsibility. We refuse to manipulate these funds in this selfish manner. The Final Rule provides that in designing a program or service to respond to a disproportionately impacted class, we must identify the impact and tailor an appropriate response. The Rule specifically provides that this assessment of impact requires data or research that measures the negative economic impact, and that ‘data about the…desirability of a response…should not be the basis for assessing impact.’
While it is understandable that the delegate and some senators, who have income well in excess of the income thresholds established for cash assistance, may want free money from the government, they simply cannot demonstrate by data or research that their income category has suffered an impact that merits direct cash assistance. It can readily be established that our island, as a community, would benefit from certain infrastructure or maintenance, or perhaps integrated health services, that would help bridge the disparity between our island and less impacted communities, disparities suffered by all who live here, regardless of income. However, giving free cash to people who, as a class, cannot demonstrate an impact violates both the letter and the spirit of the law. This is why it is critical that our direct aid programs are anchored in measurable data, such as the income thresholds established in the poverty guidelines.
The delegate and certain senators also failed to note that under the Emergency Rental Assistance and Homeowners Assistance programs millions of dollars have been paid to renters and homeowners covering all their utility bills and these payments will continue to be made to eligible claimants. Through good financial management by the Administration, local funds can be used to fund this benefit for everyone regardless of income threshold. ARPA funds have to last another three years. COVID-19 is still infecting people every day. The need for funding to combat this pervasive virus has to be met with ARPA today, tomorrow, and in 2024.”