Governor slammed for credit grabbing
While acknowledging that Guam has survived the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that killed 133 on Guam, Republican senators expressed disappointment over the administration’s lack of a clear economic recovery plan independent of the federal relief aid.
“I expected the governor to take off her rose-tinted glasses, for just a moment, so that we as lawmakers could have a clearer picture of the challenges ahead,” Sen. Joanne Brown said, reacting to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s state of the island address delivered before the 36th Guam Legislature Monday.
The governor is banking on the $661 million Guam stands to receive from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. "This will allow us to put money into the hands of our people; put employees back to work; help small businesses and non-profit organizations; and build a new hospital," the governor said.
But Brown reminded the government that the federal aid is “only a life raft used for emergencies” and that the government must plan for the months ahead.
“It is true, federal aid is on its way to our island, but this is an unsustainable source of income that creates an artificial economy,” Brown said. “Without a comprehensive, concrete plan in place, parts of our economy will collapse even further. The governor needs to make this very clear to everyone instead of presenting it to us as an accomplishment of her administration.”
Sen. James Moylan noted that the governor didn’t have a real plan to send the thousands of displaced employees back to work.
He also slammed the governor for taking credit “many of the recent accomplishments our island has received” such as the reinstatement of H2B hiring, which he said should be credited to the Guam Chamber of Commerce’s Armed Forces Committee and Congressman Michael San Nicolas.
He also noted that the 100 percent reimbursement of the earned income credit cost was facilitated by San Nicolas.
Moylan also reminded the governor that the federal programs funded by the CARES Act were a result of President Trump’s administration and Congress in 2020, inclusive of the vaccinations.
“I am also disappointed that the Guam Legislature was not credited for some of the other programs that were initiated through the Guam Congress Building, particularly with the pandemic,” Moylan said.
Nevertheless, he noted the positive statements such as the governor’s support of ending the sunset provision on limited small business tax cuts, and the streamlining of the business permitting process.
Brown, for her part, questioned some of the administration's expenditures.
"Beyond the difficulties of the pandemic, this administration has handed out pay raises and hired non-essential personnel, such as the new digital engagement manager and other similar positions, while thousands of families waited for food distribution schedules and unemployment checks. There is something inherently wrong with these actions,” Brown said.
“It’s disappointing the governor didn’t address current issues like this or the instances of government corruption, allegations of government workers gambling on-the-job or the growing mistrust of our law enforcement officers. Moving beyond this pandemic," she added.