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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Bill seeks to boost funding for public health

Sen. Therese Terlaje

Sen. Therese Terlaje has introduced a bill proposing to appropriate quarterly excess revenues to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Bill 398-35 would appropriate all fiscal year 2021 withholding and corporate income tax revenues collected in excess of the revenue level budgeted per quarter, as reflected on the monthly Consolidated Expenditures and Revenue Report, to DPHSS for the expansion of its environmental health inspections, its other regulatory purposes and other operations.

The proposed allotment from this source is capped at $5.8 million for the fiscal year.

"This bill is a compromise and instead of raising revenue projections beyond what the body is comfortable with, we would dedicate any actual revenues collected every quarter that is above what is in the budget to Public Health to shore up any shortfalls," Terlaje said,

Terlaje previously introduced the proposed funding policy as an amendment during a Committee on Appropriations meeting as a way to get additional resources for Public Health without having to increase already optimistic revenue projections. The proposal, however, failed to garner enough votes in committee.

The department’s budget amount in Sub Bill 282-35 covers all existing payroll with Terlaje successfully passing a provision that carries over their expected lapses into FY 2021, and provides them flexibility tools to shift money around to address any immediate needs for health and social programs, however, the shortage for their operations could exceed $13 million, pending a final accounting on carry-forwards.

“The economic impact from Covid-19 has taken its toll and that includes the government of Guam. We must use our federal funding to direct resources to our Covid response while strategically using our local funding to continue to prop up DPHSS," Terlaje said.

"We must support them to ensure our community is safe from Covid-19 and to continue with the numerous mandates we have placed upon them, including protecting our children and our manåmko' among their many other duties. I humbly urge my colleagues to consider this option to truly prioritize public health."

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