Governor Calvo finds new way to 'lobby' for his tax increase bill
The normal way a chief executive such as Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo goes about achieving his legislative goals involves a combination of some soft soap out front for public consumption, while quietly letting opposition legislators know there will be bad consequences for them if they don't do his bidding.
On Friday, Governor Calvo skipped all the subtle stuff, instead showing up at the Guam Legislature near midday, berating members loudly and individually and demanding that if they won't pass his bill (245-34), that they resign.
The governor's communication shop at Adelup had been backing up this direct barrage on the lawmakers for a couple of days, jamming nearly 30 news releases into the in-boxes of local media, attacking individual legislators by name and the body itself.
A clearly angry Calvo told the senators, "If you're going to allow me the responsibility for signing someone's layoff, I'm looking at everyone of you straight in the eye and say 'you resign.' Because you did not work with this administration to keep this government stable and to keep this economy moving forward."
Senator Telena Nelson, who Calvo patronizingly reminded of her freshman legislator status: "We are working and we are working very hard to find other solutions, but I ask that you come before this body without harassing us. It's unprofessional and I have so much respect for you, but I don't appreciate you coming here and harassing us, threatening us that if we don't vote your way you will call for our resignation..."
Governor Calvo jumped on that comment: "If you believe it's harassment, then I will tell you this. I want you to be with me when I lay the people off, because if you are not going to come with an answer to my proposal, and right now, if we go with Senator Regine Biscoe Lee's answer, there will be layoffs."
The Guam senators being addressed by the governor made it clear that they hadn't heard arguments from the governor's fiscal team that had persuaded them his proposal was the final answer to the budget shortfall due to the Trump tax cuts, and that after all, it was their responsibility under the separation of powers to make the decision without coercion from the executive.
Senator Lee's office put out a response as well: "Governor Calvo can't force us into a bad decision because there might be a payless payday, and then not tell us when that date will be. He also won't tell us why he has refused to renegotiate multi-million dollar leases, prioritize only the essential functions of government, or privatize what our community can do at a savings. With all due respect, I might be new to this job but extortion isn't the way to convince me of anything."