Speaker’s Budget Bill Shortchanges Public Safety, Guam’s Economic Growth
Once again, Speaker BJ Cruz wants to compromise the quality of life for the people of Guam. In his recently passed budget bill, the Speaker has specifically shortchanged two critical areas, public safety and the economy, among other priorities.
The bill was met with the Governor’s veto yesterday. He is now calling on senators to pass a budget that will not compromise your family’s sense of security or much needed tourism dollars.
“The budget appears to be a political one designed to handcuff public safety agencies and economic growth during an upcoming election year. While this might make for great politics, it makes for poor public policy at the expense of our families and the hundreds of hardworking public safety officers,” said Acting Governor Ray Tenorio.
For the past two and a half years, the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, worked with multiple government agencies and the federal court to take Guam out from under a more than 30-year consent agreement at the Department of Corrections. The consent agreement was costly, and the Governor put $3M in additional funding to fix the prison system, hire new guards, and build a new DOC clinic that is managed by the Guam Memorial Hospital. The Speaker’s budget defunds these improvements, putting the prison back at risk for receivership and negatively impacting GMH as well.
The budget also disregards the need to recruit more police officers, firefighters, and DOC officers.
“As the public has seen, the Guam Police Department’s Mandana Task Force and the Department of Correction’s Operation Green Vigilance have been aggressively making progress in the fight against illegal drugs. The budget cuts are demoralizing for our officers as they will slow down our progress. Now is not the time to do this. I’m asking our senators to revisit the budget and support public safety,” said Chief JI Cruz.
The Speaker’s budget also reduces marketing dollars for the Guam Visitors Bureau at a time when Guam has ramped up marketing efforts for tourism to address any impact from recent North Korea events.
“I’m calling on the Legislature to take a serious and objective look at the concerns raised by Governor Calvo, our public safety directors, and GVB. If you play politics with the community’s public safety and the economy, the public will hold you accountable to the challenges you are creating,” said Acting Governor Tenorio.