GovGuam to list priority projects to be funded by new infrastructure grants



By Aurora Kohn

Gov. Leon Guerrero said Guam will have significant opportunities to update and improve the island’s infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a landmark bill that is currently awaiting President Biden’ssignature.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, the governor said she met with key personnel of various federal agencies that will be taking the lead in the implementation of the IIJA. She also met with regional officials of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Veteran Affairs.

The governor said the IIJA allows for a lot of flexibility in the use of the funds available under the measure.


There are 395 programs in place that deal with utilities, cybersecurity and climate change among others.


“There are about 275 new programs as a result of the infrastructure bill. There are competitive grants that are being put forward but there are a lot of opportunities there for our island to take," Leon Guerrero said.


She spoke of the necessity of forming an Infrastructure Task Force and appointing an infrastructure coordinator to aid in identifying and prioritizing infrastructure projects in order for Guam to benefit fully from the IIJA.


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Among others, these will include projects such as the continuous supply of clean water for Guam residents, building a new public hospital and automating the operations of Guam government for greater access and efficiency.

During her meeting with the Secretary of Transportation, she explored the idea of having Guam serve as the venue for testing and demonstrating the successful use of electric vehicles.


“Guam would be a great place to have demonstration projects for the success of electrical vehicles,” she said.


The governor would also like to purchase electric buses to service Guam’s commuting needs. She said this could save Guam money that would otherwise be used to purchase gas.

The governor also met with Department of Health and Human Services officials to discuss“supplies and transportation” related to the Covid 19 pandemic and requested additional tests and medicines for Guam. She said that the health officials “have committed” to providing support and resources including transport and allocation.


In addition, she also met with Child Care officials relative to the creation of a new division under Guam’s health services geared specifically to “child wellness.”


The governor said federal officials were “impressed” with Guam's efforts to restructure its services to address the needs of children and provide support and resources to improve the quality of childcare services.


The governor also mentioned that U.S. officials are “satisfied” with Guam’s response to mental health challenges and that she was assured that the federal government would continue to provide resources and support in this area.

Leon Guerrero also batted for the creation of a Veterans Regional Service Center on Guam to assists veterans from the various island nations and the Philippines as well as the expansion and improvement of the Guam Veterans Cemetery which is direly needed.


Leon Guerrero also attended a meeting of the National Governors Association and gave testimony before the Senate Committee on National Resources well as the Inter-Agency Group on Insular Affairs.


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She joined governors of the 50 states and territories in the Governor’s annual winter meeting in Washington DC. According to the governor.


“The main takeaway from the that is that digitalization and technology is the way. That’s the future leap,” the governor said.


The chairman of the association has asked the states and territories to explore incorporating computer science into the curricula from K-12 with an emphasis on teaching “digital analytics, critical thinking and creative thinking” to students.

The governor tackled several issues that are foremost among Guam’s concerns when she made her presentation to the Interagency Group on InsularAffairs and the Committee of Natural Resources.


“Of course, every opportunity I had, I presented my argument for the need of a hospital and to provide funding for that hospital,” Leon Guerrero said.


The government of Guam is eyeing Eagle’s Field in Mangilao as the site of the proposed new hospital that will eventually replace Guam Memorial Hospital.


The governor mentioned that she has received assurance from Vice Admiral Joe Hill that the commitment of the Navy Secretary for land in the Eagle’s Field stands and that it is not needed for missile defense.


She added that lease negotiations for a 99-year lease have been restarted this week.

Aside from the need for funding to build a new public hospital, she also addressed the need for an additional relief package to allow Guam to weather the decline of the tourism industry in Guam due to the pandemic.


She asked for an extension of the H2B visa exemption for Guam and for the expansion of its coverage and requested that Medicaid matching rates on Guam be based on per capita income like the 50 states and the removal the Medicaid cap and expiration dates.


She also asked for Guam’s inclusion in the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant and the passage Build Back Better bill so that Medicaid and child tax credit could be expanded in Guam and requested for Supplemental Security Income benefits for Guam residents.




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