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All RISE payments breach $30M ceiling; legislature's version pushed aside?

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

A total of $36.9 million in stimulus funds under the administration's All RISE program have been disbursed as of April 25, surpassing the $30 million cap set by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero last year.

The governor's All RISE program, which stands for "All Recovery Income Support and Empowerment," provides one-time cash assistance in the amount of $800 per individual filer and $1,600 per joint filers. Created through an executive order, the program is federally funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Last year, the Department of Revenue and Taxation said All RISE payments would be distributed "according to an aggressive schedule on a first-in, first-out basis until the $30 million allocations are exhausted."

In another directive issued on Oct. 15, 2021, the governor granted DRT "additional authorization for payment of amounts under the All Rise program."

"Such payment authorization is limited to completed applications filed by eligible applicants and received by the Department of Revenue and Taxation prior to the deadline for application submission," states the executive order, which sets June 30 as the program's expiration.

The legislature's version of the program has not been implemented since it became public law, raising questions from Sen. James Moylan.

"While we understand that qualified island residents received $800 from your administration's All RISE program last year, the question I ask is if you plan on enforcing Public Law 36-53," said Moylan, author of the law in question, which was introduced as Bill 75-36.

Bill 75-36 amended P.L. 35-136, the original RISE Act which was introduced by then-senator Regine Biscoe-Lee in the 35th Guam Legislature.

Biscoe-Lee's RISE Act lapsed into law in 2020 without the governor's action.

Leon Guerrero has repeatedly argued that the legislature did not have the authority to appropriate the federal funds.

Instead of implementing P.L. 35-136, the governor created her own All RISE program through an executive order.


Moylan's Bill 75-36 raises the stimulus grant from $800 to $1,000 per filer; and from $1,600 to $2,000 per joint filers. Leon Guerrero vetoed Bill 75-36, but senators later voted 10-2 to override the governor's veto. The bill thus became Public Law 36-53.

When the All RISE program was launched, however, claimants were advised to elect the governor's version "in lieu of any payments that may be available" under similar programs that were created through legislation.

"While I understand that you expressed a point in your veto message (of Bill 75-36) that you are the only authoritative body who can dictate how federal dollars are spent, it would be quite disingenuous to fail to address the recommendations of this co-equal branch of government, which, just like you, were elected by the people of Guam," Moylan told the governor.

"Further, P.L. 36-53 was mandated to obtain a public opinion, which means you are ignoring the voices of the people in the process," he added.

Moylan, a congressional candidate, said the administration's All RISE program and the recent Prugraman Salappe "failed tens of thousands of working-class island residents who did not qualify for these local relief efforts."


Moylan sought to negotiate with the governor on P.L. 36-53, proposing to amend the income thresholds "to assure that someone with a full-time job can still avail benefits from the locally established program."

"When former Sen. Regine Biscoe-Lee introduced and got P.L. 35-136 enacted in 2020, the circumstances were different then versus what they are today," Moylan said. "The island was amid a pandemic, thousands of private sector workers were either out of jobs or faced reduced working hours, while those in the public sector continued to get compensated."

"In 2021, as island residents waited anxiously for a payout that didn’t seem like it was coming, we introduced Bill 75-36 to not only increase the payout but also address whatever concerns were being raised by your administration, in its efforts to enforce P.L. 35-136," Moylan said.

While more employees are back to work, Moylan said, prices of commodities have escalated tremendously.

"I am open to amending P.L. 36-53 to address the changes in the income threshold but would like to work with your administration on coming up with a reasonable solution," Moylan said. "We may not need legislation if you establish a program through an executive order."

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