- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Senators shun pressure from Adelup
Rodriguez proposes elimination of funding for governor's office, legislature
Fire and police stations are closed today after Gov. Eddie B. Calvo and the senators hit a deadlock on the governor’s proposed 50 percent increase in business privilege tax and implementation of sales tax.
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez proposed the shutdown of the governor’s office and legislature instead.
After a weekend special session grilling department heads, senators went into recess, shunning pressure from the governor to take immediate action on his proposal raise business privilege tax from 4 percent to 6 percent.
“Senators are policy makers. They are tasked with the enormous responsibility of prioritizing the government’s budget,” said Oyaol Ngirairikl, the governor’s communications director. “And yet they have not passed any bills these past couple of months even after hundreds of hours spent in meeting and debate.”
With the proposed 50 percent increase in BPT, the administration seeks to raise additionalrevenue to bridge the shortfall created by the federal tax cuts.
Senators, however, were unconvinced that passing the proposed tax bills immediately would result in immediate cash flow into the treasury.
During the session, Officials of the Department of Administration told the committee of the whole that a BPT increase would not yield additional cash flow until April 20. Similarly, DOA confirmed that if Bill No. 248-34, which proposes the implementation of a sales tax, would not yield additional cash until May.
Acting Speaker Therese Terlaje it is imperative to seek public input on the tax bills. “My colleagues and I are diligently working towards consensus on additional cost cutting and revenue enhancement measures, based on facts, and are seeking community input as we move forward,” Terlaje said.
The administration noted that only the Legislature has the authority to solve the so-called financial crisis. “We also have been very clear that everyday we wait, means more drastic measures are needed or else we will have payless paydays, furloughs and even a government shutdown,” states a press release from Adelup.
And government shutdown was included in the proposed amendment offered by Senator Rodriguez, who proposed: Tax the banks and insurance companies, otherwise, eliminate funding for the governor’s office and the legislature.
If that amendment fails to convince the majority of senators to stop the government’s preferential treatment of banks and insurance companies, the senator will introduce an amendment that will:
Unfund the Governor’s Office except for $100,000, which the Governor can use to fund a scaled-down operation;
Unfund the Legislature except for $100,000 for scaled-down operations
Discontinue the authorization for the Governor & the Legislature to use funds that lapsed from previous years’ unused appropriations;
Prohibits any spending on the salaries and benefits of all but a select group of directors and deputy directors of the Executive Branch;
These appropriations and continuing appropriations will be restored if and when the governor revokes any and all notices of furlough or reduction in force and certifies that a fiscal crisis no longer exists; and
Prohibit anyone displaced by these policies from cashing in their annual leave hours that accrued.
“It is up to the governor to determine how the executive branch operates, and I pray these decisions are being made out of necessity and not to force the legislature’s hand to act as the governor wants us to act on the tax increases,” Rodriguez said.
“For whatever reason, the governor is choosing to close fire stations and a police precinct, believing perhaps that the people’s safety is not as important as other functions of the government,” he added.
The gubernatorial candidate said the government should not jeopardize public safety and health.
“If we’re going to cut, we’re going to start at the top and we’re going to set an example,” he said. “The buck stops here. Leadership created this mess, and leadership should make the first sacrifice.”
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