Bill to assist in the implementation of Guam ABLE Savings Act gets support
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Bill 247-36, which was introduced by Sen. James Moylan received support from various entities and individuals during its public hearing, which was held on Thursday afternoon by the Committee on Appropriations.
The measure amends certain sections of Public Law 34-144 to allow for the program to be implemented, and for those individuals who want to support family or friends with disabilities, to be able to open a Guam ABLE Savings Account with tax benefits.
P.L. 34-144 was authored by former senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. and Sen. Joe San Agustin in 2018 and created the Guam ABLE Savings program.
Guam “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) Act establishes the parameters of a program that mirrors what many states have established, which in essence is a tax-exempt savings program, and those with disabilities can avail as a supplemental income. Unfortunately, due to many challenges, after three years the program has yet to be implemented.
After discussions with constituents and government entities, Moylan introduced Bill 247-36 to address these challenges and allow the objectives of P.L. 34-144 to reach its fruition, and allow individuals to deposit monies into a Guam ABLE savings account.
The measure accomplishes the following:
- Transfers the authority of the Guam ABLE Savings Program from the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT) to the Department of Administration. DRT’s concern was primarily related to avoiding any conflicts, as they are also the entity that regulates banking.
- Provides the governor of Guam the authority to identify and transfer no more than $250,000 to DOA to obtain any needed resources to help with the implementation of the program. This would include the solicitation of consultants, a program manager, or a financial organization to administer the program.
- Established a timeline of the start of FY 2023 for when individuals can make a deposit into a Guam ABLE savings account.
“I would like to extend an appreciation to Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr., and his former Chief of Staff, Mr. Chuck Tanner for supportive testimony on the measure. Mr. Tanner was the chief researcher on what became P.L. 34-144, and he provided vital details, including statistics which once again confirm the importance in having the Guam ABLE Savings Program in place,” Moylan said.
“I am also extending an appreciation to Banking Commissioner Michelle Santos, DOA Director Edward Birn, and Guam Disabilities Developmental Disabilities Council’s Executive Director, Jermaine Alerta for their valuable input on the legislation. As noted during the hearing, our objective is to provide support to Mr. Birn and his department in getting the program started. This means instead of micromanaging issues, allowing him the flexibility with obtaining the resources to be successful. How funds are spent will eventually be reported back to the legislature,” Moylan said.
According to Tanner's testimony, Guam currently has 1,783 children living with disabilities. This program would allow a savings program that can amount to an income for them when they are adults, with tax benefits.