Governor asked to tap the remainder of Covid funds to aid Guam business sector, ratepayers
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam senators are asking Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to make use of the remaining federal Covid funds to provide a financial crutch for businesses still reeling from the impact of the pandemic and extended relief for ratepayers who are struggling to pay their power bills.
“While the legislature is trying to find the means to help our hurting families, whether it be ensuring they could put food on their table, or keeping them from being a victim of a crime or making sure that our hospital can continue to provide the healthcare they may need, Gov. Leon Guerrero has over $200 million in American Rescue Plan money that could really help,” Sen. Frank Blas Jr. said.
Blas is the main sponsor of a resolution urging the governor to exercise her authority to allocate funds being sought in two pertinent bills.
Resolution 122-37 was introduced as the legislature began deliberating Bill 75-37 appropriating $20 million in funding aid for struggling businesses, and Bill 87-37, which would allocate $26.3 million to extend relief to Guam Power Authority ratepayers for at least five months.
The resolution noted that the remaining balance in the ARPA grant is more than sufficient to cover the appropriations proposed in the two bills.
Authors of the resolution pointed out that using federal funds for the proposed programs "will help in directing the limited funding available in the excess general fund to other urgent matters" such as public safety, education and medical care.
"While government of Guam employees have been provided regular paychecks, pay increases, upward pay adjustments, and incentive/retention pays since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of the island's workforce were forced to tap into their savings, apply for financial assistance, or leave their island home to seek employment elsewhere," the resolution states.
The resolution is co-spoonsored by Sens. Chris M. Duenas, Jesse A. Lujan, Telo T. Taitague, Joanne M. Brown, Dwayne San Nicolas, and Chris Barnett.