- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Republicans tell legislature: Don't rubber stamp executive budget request
The Republican Party slammed the Guam Legislature for allegedly looking the other way while the administration goes on a hiring binge amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought the island's economy to a standstill.
"Even at the heart of the pandemic, knowing that government collections would be bleak, Adelup continues to hire, and other than a few Republican senators, the Guam Legislature said absolutely nothing," the Republican Party said in a statement Monday.
A recent report projected that the government of Guam's collections are short by about $47.4 million, which is an estimated 8.5 percent shortfall.
Noting that the current state of Guam's economy presents a "real emergency" besetting the community, the Republican Party urged the Guam Legislature to clip the administration's spending power and not to rubberstamp the election-year budget proposal from the executive branch.
"While it is clear that the executive branch absolutely refuses to reduce costs, the legislative branch needs to do the responsible thing and identify cost-cutting measures," the Republican Party said in a statement.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is requesting a budget of $916 million for fiscal 2021, which she described as "very realistic" and "not over-inflated."
But Sen. James Moylan begged to disagree.
"The executive budget request is the biggest ever. It is not realistic at all," Moylan said at last week's emergency legislative session. "Our GovGuam revenues have fallen and there is no plan to cut government expenses. Where are the austerity measures? Where are the budget cuts?"
Leon Guerrero, for her part, defended her administration. “In terms of austerity," she said at Friday's press conference, "I have always said that our government has been the most frugal administration since the last eight years."
The legislature is preparing for the budget talks next month.
"It would be almost dreadful if the 35th Guam Legislature allows the executive branch to attain a nearly billion dollar budget that they are requesting," the Republican Party said.
"It would be absolutely laughable if they did not recognize the state of our economy for fiscal year 2021 and work toward cutting spending on less priorities," the Republican Party said, noting that the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty on the government's revenue stream.
"The tax filing date has been moved from April 15 to July 15, and the government believes that a portion of his shortage will be reflected in the July collection reports," the Republican Party said.
The Republican Party recommended that "the legislature place blinders on when it comes to who occupies Adelup and instead start acting as senators who are provided the responsibility of passing a realistic budget."
For the first time in eight years, Guam voters have elected a Democratic governor, apparently mitigating tension with the 35th Guam Legislature dominated by Democrats.
"The leadership of the legislature needs to accept the reality that the legislative and executive branches are co-equal branches of government, and thus the community expects the Guam Legislature to make its own decisions and not allow Adelup to control the actions on the session floor of the Guam Congress Building," the Republican Party said.