Guam, Hawai'i team up to tackle compact impact
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Guam and Hawai'i congressional offices introduced the "Compacts of Free Association Host Community Support Act" led by Congressman San Nicolas and co-sponsored by Congressman Ed Case and Congressan Kai Kahele to expand compact impact funding for the host communities of migrants from the freely associated states.
Currently compact impact funding is limited to a federal pool of approximately $30 million and is distributed based on population data on Guam, the CNMI, American Samoa and Hawai'i, for the purposes of offsetting the public costs associated with hosting migrant communities from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Marshall Islands.
Historically, compact impact funding has proven grossly insufficient to offset the actual public costs of serving as a host community, with each accounting for education, health, and public safety, expenses far in excess of available funds.
For years efforts to increase compact impact funding have been discussed and undertaken, with much challenge surrounding the difficult hurdle of appropriating additional federal dollars for this purpose.
The bill engineers a creative way to bring more compact impact support without the need for additional federal appropriations. Specifically, the language of the bill enables each host community to determine their true hosting costs, and to offset those costs against local dollar matching requirements for various federal grants.
Because the grants are already appropriated and authorized, no new federal funding is needed for the legislation; however, its ability to offset the cost of compact hosting reduces the need to spend local dollars and also enables more federally granted funds to be utilized.
On Guam, total local matching funds for federal grants cost Guam taxpayers over the last three years:
FY 19 = $73,911,037
FY 20 = $66,189,766
FY 21 = $32,418,79;
Over $172 million total.
"It is an honor to serve as a host community of our brothers and sisters in Micronesia as part of our historic relationship spanning thousands of years and more specifically their allied relationship under the Compact of Free Association with the United States," San Nicolas said.
"This bill further strengthens this special relationship by enabling us to realize meaningful savings for our local taxpayers as part of the process, which could have totaled over $172mm over the last three years alone, freeing up these resources for badly needed investments in public safety, education, and healthcare in our communities," San Nicolas said.
"We are honored to lead this effort along with our Congressional Hawaiian Delegation colleagues, and are excited of the prospects of finally addressing this critical funding need in a fashion that does not actually require additional federal spending," San Nicolas added.