While Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero has touted Guam to be in great shape, Republican Sen. James Moylan is far from impressed, saying the governor's optimism does not reflect current realities.
Moylan challenged the governor to cut business privilege tax if the government cash stream is indeed as stable as she claimed in her state of the island address to the 35th Guam Legislature Monday.
"The governor stated that she cut taxes for small businesses, but many small entities have shared beliefs contrary to her statement, and further stated that many of them (small business owners) are hurting, even well before the emergence of the novel coronavirus," Moylan said, reacting to the governor's address.
Moylan expressed concern "about the gross lack of substantial planning for the protection of current economic opportunities, and the development of future ones."
The governor said Guam “is stronger than it was just a one year ago” and that government finances are stable. “We’ve cut taxes for our small businesses, saved millions on capital improvement projects because we refinanced debt in more responsible ways, secured millions in new federal spending for Guam, and adopted policies that will reduce, and eventually eliminate, this government’s deficit," she said.
Moylan, who earlier proposed a rollback of BPT hike, said he was hoping the governor would announce a reduction in the business privilege taxes after claiming success in her administration's aggressive tax collections.
"I clearly recall that in 2018 (campaign season), she and several senators agreed that the BPT should be reduced from 5 percent to 4 percent since it is a regressive tax and one that impacts the everyday costs of goods. As a matter of fact there were senators who voted 'No' on an amendment which would allow the BPT to remain at 5 percent forever," Moylan said in a comment posted on is Facebook page.
"All of that changed on Jan. 7, 2019 (Inauguration Day). Not only was there a declaration of BPT at 5 percent 'Forever,'” but several of the same senators who voted No' on that amendment just a few months prior now said no to my proposal in reducing the BPT. Campaign promises! If the finances of the government have truly stabilized as claimed last night, then let’s fulfill some of the 2018 promises and reduce the BPT."
Read related story: Leon Guerrero: Our island is stronger
While the governor spoke of financial stability and environmental stewardship, Moylan said her claims lacked details and her plans lacked comprehensive and concrete solutions to the real problems our island is facing.
"For example, she spoke of achieving a fiscal savings, yet failed to mention the growing number of unpaid vendors and lack of supplies at entities like DOE, leaving the situation to continue to fester," he said.
While Leon Guerrero sought to pour more investments in recruitment of police officers, Moylan said the administration lacked a comprehensive plan on public safety.
"While it is easy to say that the administration wants to hire 100 new police officers, our discussions with stakeholders have revealed that there are many administrative policy gaps which need to be addressed," the Republican senator said.
"Stakeholders have repeatedly asked my office to address the hiring process and the recruitment phase, as well as retention. As a result, our office worked on a comprehensive plan. We released the plan this morning, and we hope to work with her administration on successful implementation, as it is needed if we are truly going to address our law enforcement shortfalls."
Moylan on Monday proposed a comprehensive public safety plan, which he said was a product of meetings with many stakeholders over several months, to address the manpower challenges such as recruitment, processing and retention.
According to a press release from Moylan’s office, “Statistics have identified that almost 70 percent of applicants who seek to apply for a position as Peace Officer fail the entrance examination administered by the Department of Administration.
“The present processing of applicants from the interview phase to the actual selection is an extremely timely phase, of which applicants tend to lose interest and seek job options elsewhere.
“The entry level compensation and growth opportunities for locally funded peace officers is inadequate when compared to federal counterparts, that it is a common practice for law enforcement agencies to lose newly sworn in officers within a year to federally funded positions.”
Moylan also took the governor to task for not acknowledging the previous administration "for some of the accomplishments her administration has realized today, including the genesis of when some of the officers who graduated recently were initially selected."
"Finally, I was a bit disappointed that there were no discussions on the conditions of our roads and infrastructure needs. For example, we need more focus and priorities with road repairs and what our schools need. Take Southern High School for example, the school needs a workable auditorium. Other schools such as V.S.A. Benavente Middle School need awnings. Let’s help them."
and not just 11.