Moylan proposes stimulus for all
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. James Moylan today introduced a piece of legislation to amend the eligibility criteria for the Recovery Income Support and Empowerment (RISE) Act of 2020, making it available to all.
The yet-to-be numbered bill would remove all qualification requirements, inclusive of the income threshold. It would also not require an application process, as those who filed their 1040 for the tax year 2020 would automatically qualify.
Those who did not file because they did not meet an income threshold would be required to fill out a non-filer form.
The program was amended in 2021, through legislation introduced by Moylan and fellow Republicans, Sens. Tony Ada and Chris Duenas, to increase the RISE Act payout from $800 per qualified resident to $1,000.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero vetoed the bill, but it became Public Law 36-53 following the legislature's override of the veto.
The RISE Act has never been implemented. The governor created her own version of the program called "All RISE" and has since paid out more than $30 million.
Leon Guerrero has repeatedly argued that the legislature did not have the authority to appropriate the federal funds.
“We have asked the governor to simply implement Public Law 36-53 and pay out the proceeds as approved by the legislature. We have also asked her to amend the program, inclusive of the income threshold, and she has yet to respond,” Moylan said.
“While I appreciate that the administration has used some of the federal relief funds to create local relief programs, the reality is that thousands of island residents, particularly the working class, have not received a single penny of support. The cries of the community are deafening, and with $300 million in federal funds sitting in the government's bank account, we need to help our island residents, and Public Law 36-53 does just that. Hoarding the funds defies humanity,” he added.
“While I recognize that Gov. Leon Guerrero created her ‘All Rise Act’, an $800 stimulus program in 2021, we want to remind her that 1). Public Law 36-53 is law, so please follow the law, and 2). Let’s simplify the requirements of the program, as we don’t want island residents to be standing in line for hours, or running around to secure documents, as they had to do so last year to obtain the governor’s program," Moylan said.
“I recall that gloomy morning, which was met with heavy rainfall, as we saw children sitting in a vehicle for hours, so their parents could try and beat the deadline, as the administration deemed the program a ‘first come-first served.' We cannot repeat that. I won’t allow it,” he added.
Moylan has expressed that when he and his colleagues overrode Bill 76-36, which was enacted into Public Law 36-53 in 2021, the crisis was somewhat different.
At the time the island was facing an economic crisis because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, now every island resident is dealing with an inflationary crisis, and these proceeds would help many families pay for food, fuel, and other necessities.
“Just as I advocated for an emergency session to address the fuel crisis last month, I will be requesting the Speaker to consider calling for one on this measure as well. This is an emergency crisis, and I am optimistic that we will be successful in this endeavor as we were last month. Those efforts have brought some relief to the gas pumps, and I am hopeful this will do more,” Moylan said.