• By C.J. Urquico

Underwood unveils platform for education and healthcare

Congressional candidate Robert Underwood unveiled plans for the future of education and health services on Guam. The presentation started with the current state of education on Guam and centers on treating WiFi as a utility.

"Working with telecom companies, we can come up with creative solutions such as putting WiFi on every bus. WiFi is an essential part of life in the 21st century," said Underwood, former congressman and retired president of the University of Guam. "Some teachers are getting only 30 percent of their students regularly under the current system online. It's not just giving students tablets; we need to give them training. We need to move to a digital platform and go beyond standard textbooks."

The education platform intends to assist GDOE public schools, UOG, GCC, charter schools, and private schools.

  • A new educator expense tax deduction of $500 for teachers, to help with online learning.

  • Technology upgrades, capital improvement upgrades, and funding to keep schools safe for students and vandalism with security systems.

  • Incentivize lower tuition rates

  • Increase grants for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) to provide mandatory funding to UOG and GCC similar to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions

  • Help offset tuition costs for college students in 2021

  • Student loan forgiveness option

  • Grant Compact of Free Association migrants' eligibility to get jobs in the federal work-study program

  • Double federal education grants to $400,000

  • Enhance UoG to create new economic activities that protect Guam's people, culture, and environment

"Healthcare has changed everything due to the coronavirus pandemic. We need to apply the Affordable Care Act to Guam in a way that makes sense to the island." said Underwood.

  • Include Guam in the national pandemic planning for vaccines and treatments

  • Cross-train medical personnel to be capable of deployment where they're needed most

  • Build a new public hospital, expand local community health centers

  • Increase subsidies for low-income individuals to help purchase prescription drugs

  • Restore Medicaid eligibility for migrants

  • Eliminate Medicaid cap and work with Medicare and Medicaid for use in the Philippines

"These ideas are difficult, but they are doable. The one key element is that you can expect instant communication with your delegate's office. We're going to have regular consultation on key policy items." said Underwood.

A Democrat, Underwood is running for the delegate seat against the incumbent Delegate Michael San Nicolas and Republican Sen. Wil Castro

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