Senators cast split vote on diversion of recycling fund

Guam senators on Friday voted to reprogram $500,000 from the Recycling Revolving Fund to the University of Guam's "Green Growth Initiative," a move which Sen Sabina Perez said would set a precedent for future raid of the chest.

Perez frowned on her colleagues' action, saying the fund realignment violated an 11-month-old law.

RFF was established by a 2003 law, which did not have rules and regulations on proper use of the fund until last year. In October 2019, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed into law Perez's bill that appropriated $2 million from RRF for removal of abandoned vehicles and tires as well as clearing of illegal dump sites.

"I am deeply saddened that the RRF is now being raided in direct violation of the law. Without a public hearing, $500,000 is being removed from the RRF and given to UOG without a formal budget submission and without board oversight and accountability," said Perez, chair of the legislative committee on environment.

The RFF realignment is incorporated into Bill 282-35, the 2021 budget act.

During the budget deliberation, Perez proposed an amendment to remove the $500,000 appropriation for the Guam Green Growth Initiative, which was added to UOG’s revised FY 2021 budget despite there being no record of the university requesting for such funding in the new fiscal year.

RRF is built through collections from annual vehicle registration fees. "Unfortunately, our effort to protect this landmark environmental fund lost by a 7-8 vote," Perez said.