BUSH BUDGET INCLUDES DECREASE IN COMPACT OF FREE ASSOCIATION IMPACT AID FOR

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GUAM

By Susan Roth Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---President Bush has proposed cutting compact-impact reimbursements for the second year in a row.

In his fiscal 2003 budget released Monday, Bush also proposed spending $47 million for three military construction projects in Guam, nearly 30 percent less than the $66 million for military construction approved for fiscal 2002.

The president's budget includes the base amount of $4.6 million in aid for the social impact of immigration related to the U.S. compacts with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

For fiscal 2002, Congress appropriated $5.6 million in compact-impact aid for Guam.

Delegate Robert Underwood, a Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed with both administration proposals.

''Given President Bush's priority on increased defense spending, I was hoping that Guam would see a greater share of funding compared to last year for military construction,'' Underwood said Monday.

Underwood said in addition to the three projects included in the president's budget, he will seek to secure more money for the third phase of the Guam Army National Guard's Readiness Center in Barrigada -- about $7 million. He will also work to ensure that Guam gets its fair share of proposed homeland security funding.

Underwood said he was upset the Interior Department's proposed budget did not call for an increase in compact-impact aid, ''particularly given the trend of increased funding over the last few years and the recent reports documenting Guam's actual compact-impact costs.''

But Underwood said he would continue to press Guam's case during the budget process.

Gov. Carl Gutierrez said in a press release that the drop in compact-impact aid was "very disappointing" and demonstrated "some people in Washington still don't understand the true impact of federal immigration policies on Guam."

Gutierrez said the administration has demonstrated it costs the government $30 million annually to absorb the costs associated with immigration from the islands with compact agreements.

The governor urged the island's Republican leadership to make a plea for Guam in Washington, D.C., noting it appears the island could receive 50 percent less next year than it did during the last year of the Clinton administration.

Speaker Tony Unpingco, R-Santa-Rita, said he will reach out to some of the contacts he made recently in the nation's capital and reiterate Guam's economic plight.

"This is a great disappointment for me and for Guam," Unpingco said.

Pacific Daily News reporter Scott Radway contributed to this story.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam). 

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