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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

GovGuam to implement deeper budget cuts

The government will suspend bussing service to private schools. Fifty percent of streetlights will be disconnected. Recreational facilities will be shut down.

These are among the new areas of services the administration has put on the chopping table in its desperate bid to compel the legislature to act on the governor’s tax bills.

“Because the legislature has failed to pass even their own bills, I regret to inform the public that cuts to everything on the table,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said. “My team has advised me of dire service cuts that may be necessary in the immediate future if the Legislature doesn’t pass a bill very soon. These cuts will continue to hit public health, safety, and education without the ability to furlough sooner.”

Sen. Dennis Rodriguez has proposed that budget cuts begin at the governor's office and the legislature. While warning of a possible payless pay period, the governor has not considered implementing pay cuts.

Meanwhile, the judiciary announced its cost saving measures including hiring-freeze on all vacant positions except for law clerks, research attorneys and other key positions. The judiciary has also suspended 60 percent of funding for staff development

The austerity measures, according to Court Administrator John Lizama, “will ensure that the Judiciary remains committed to administering justice … in a timely manner and providing effective court services to out people for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

The cost cutting plan also includes “implementation of the Judiciary Energy Conservation Plan.”

Effective April 1, preparation fee for contract counselors will be eliminated and purchases of certain items will be suspended. These items include drug testing kits that are not federally funded, locally funded ammunition and supplies, enforcement equipment and other miscellaneous supplies.

“Should the judiciary see an increase in the scheduled allotments to fund our operations for the remainder of this fiscal year,” Lizama said, “we may be able to reinstate these cost savings measures.

He said the judiciary’s division managers “are currently working on revenue enhancement projects to help minimize the impact of these cost saving measures for this fiscal year and beyond.”

At the executive branch, other cost cutting measures include, cutting leases at government agencies, cutting service contracts such as the Guam Museum operating contract, suspension of operations at government gyms and recreational facilities to include the Paseo Stadium, Hagatna Pool, Dededo Pool and Dededo Sports Complex, and shutdown of the Department of Revenue and Taxation’s driver’s license satellite office in Hagatna.

Adelup also warned it might not be able to meet payroll obligations in the next pay period unless the legislature passes the tax bills that would bridge the gap created by the federal tax cuts.

“We have sent multiple solutions to the legislature to address the $67 million in cuts the next six months, but they have not passed a solution,” Calvo said. “The consequence of this inaction is causing deeper cuts and pain in the community. I’m looking for partners down there who will address the fiscal crisis and answer the call to leadership.”

The legislature is currently deliberating bills to implement a 2 percent sales tax.

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