The Liberty to Push a Full Agenda
By Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa adai, my fellow Guamanians,
There are a few liabilities left for the government to pay. We are preparing to pay out the rest of the merit bonuses. We’re looking to pay for promised compensation. We’re finding ways to cover the remaining 20 percent for law enforcement. These are on top of the financial solutions to pay vendors faster, hire more police officers, and pay lingering debts to the IRS and for Layon.
It took a little bit of time to get to this point, but here we are. It’s a good place to be. And while we really didn’t imagine we would stabilize finances this quickly, we also didn’t waste time to plan for when this day comes. Our great fear is that the opportunities presented by this new era of financial responsibility will be squandered. If you think about it, as soon as every liability is paid off, every dollar that comes in to government will be available for operations. GovGuam hasn’t been in a position like that since 1990.
So we thought ahead. During the period of austerity, the fiscal team has been preparing GovGuam agencies for a major shift in budgeting. It’s very obvious that the current system of budgeting is outdated and devoid of consideration for performance outcomes. When this government becomes cash flushed, we can’t just spend the money away. It becomes even more important to acxcount for every dollar – to ensure that for every dollar invested into operations, a dollar or more in services is being performed. That’s why training in performance-based management and budgeting is ongoing. This is why we’re looking at modernizing the procurement system.
This is also the time for comprehensive capital planning. We have an obligation to plan the use of resources to build good roads, sustain our environment, and best run our utilities. If we want to grow and take control of our own destiny, then we need to fully implement our vision for an economy that is dictated by strategic education outcomes. And if we want to rein in all our medical problems, then we’ve got to place our focus on healthy living.
For years, what stopped government from planning ahead was that it was always dealing with one fiscal crisis after another. That fiscal crisis doesn’t exist anymore. The ship of state is stable. Services are improving. We have every opportunity right now to focus entirely on our fight against poverty and building for the future. We can turn our attention fully to affordable housing, education reform and improvement, career development, investment, renewable energy, self-determination, the arts and humanities, cultural reawakening, and so much more.
Take a look at the hospital. For years, GMH struggled to pay their obligations, and they had a hard time paying vendors on time – they still are. We’re focusing our efforts on that. Out of all the dust that’s finally settling, we’re seeing an opportunity for growth with the hospital. Even with a new private hospital coming into the picture, GMH is working to build on their standard of excellence, commitment to health care for all Guamanians, and even expanding their facilities to meet the growing needs of our island. It should be noted that even in the most dire of times, the staff and management at the Guam Memorial Hospital still managed to provide the critical services necessary to the Guamanians. I point out GMH because their hard work exemplifies what your government has been trying to do all along: get itself on the right track, while still maintaining their promise to provide the best service to the people. I understand the hospital management’s point. He wants to get rid of GMH fiscal issues so he can concentrate on the future of the hospital. That’s what we’ve been able to accomplish through the rest of GovGuam.
Paying tax refunds, merit bonuses, increments, and all the other obligations is right because it helps people who’ve been struggling. It returns money to its owners, and restores trust in government. For us in the administration, it’s liberating. We didn’t want to come in to office and only rightsize government. We have a full agenda to grow this community, and we’re charged and excited to move this agenda forward.
This is going to be a great summer. Stay tuned. Join us. Get involved. Be a part of this new era in our history. Thank you, and God bless you.