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Unanimously approved bill with 10 cosponsors not veto-proof after all

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Sen. Telo Taitague expressed disappointment in her colleagues who voted against overriding the governor's veto of a bill that would have enforced the punctual submission of financial reports to the public auditor.

In Adelup, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero thanked the senators who voted against the override, describing the vetoed Bill 213-37 as “politically driven" and "fundamentally flawed from both a logical policy perspective and even a commonsense perspective.”

Telo Taitague

The bill would have imposed penalties on government employees for missing the deadlines for financial report submission.

According to a press statement from the governor's office, the bill would punish "hardworking employees" based on "arbitrarily decided deadlines."

Taitague, the bill's author, noted that a unanimously passed measure with 10 cosponsors should have been veto-proof. Hence her surprise with her bill's defeat, with only eight senators voting for override.

“It’s a good idea until the governor tells you it’s not. It’s disheartening to see that loyalty to the governor is more important than loyalty to the people,” she said.

The legislature needed 10 votes to override the governor's veto.

Those who voted against the override were Sens. Thomas Fisher, Will Parkinson, Joe San Agustin, Amanda Shelton, Tina Muna Barnes, Roy Quinata and Dwayne San Nicolas.

“It’s interesting how easily we can declare a call to arms the 'spirit of collaboration,' but when it comes to making policy that would make our processes more efficient, genuinely improve our ability to make sound decisions, and ultimately curb government corruption, we suddenly can’t agree on whose interests we serve when we were elected into office,” Taitague said.

“Rather than helping to ensure that GovGuam directors do their jobs, the governor, by vetoing the bill, sent a message to directors that they can continue to delay the completion of the audit without fear of repercussions. The senators who changed their minds after initially supporting the bill are complicit,” she added.


For its part, the administration rebuked Speaker Therese Terlaje, Sens. Chris Barnett, Sabina Perez, Taitague, Joanne Brown, Chris Duenas, Jesse Lujan and Frank Blas for voting yes on the override of the governor’s veto "even after her veto message explained clearly why this is a bad piece of legislation."

“There is no rhyme or reason for how the deadlines could be set. If a public auditor decided a director needed to provide an impossible amount of information within an impossible deadline, that director could be subjected to unfair fines,” the governor said.


“The claim that all of the delays in the audit process result from agencies simply missing submission deadlines is not true. Delays often result from the actions of the auditor. This year’s financial audits have not even started because of issues the OPA encountered entering into the contract with the commercial auditing firm.


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