GOVERNMENT OF GUAM LAYOFF OPTIONS SOUGHT

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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (March 9, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---The Legislature might have a solution to the government's cash problems that would make layoffs unnecessary, said Sen. Kaleo Moylan, the legislative Committee on Ways and Means chairman.

The governor has proposed laying off as many as 3,800 employees because the island's General Fund is expected to collect $60 million less than originally projected.

Moylan, R-Barrigada, said the Legislature is taking another look at some of the cost-cutting and money-generating proposals that were suggested a year ago, when lawmakers trimmed $94 million from the fiscal 2002 budget.

Moylan would not comment on the exact nature of the proposal, saying the Legislature needs to calculate the potential savings over the weekend.

"I need to give you a true solution. I'm not going to give you an idea if it's not a solution," Moylan said. "You don't need to cut any jobs. There's a lot of things within the budget that we can go back to again."

However, Moylan's chief of staff, Bertha Duenas, gave an example, saying that cutting the work hours of non-critical employees from 40 hours per week to 32 hours would save the government as much as $12 million.

As officials work to solve the cash crisis, the Department of Education yesterday announced cost-cutting measures intended to decrease the number of potential layoffs in that agency.

Among other things, public schools no longer can use local money to hire substitute teachers and interscholastic sports programs will be canceled for the fourth quarter.

At Adelup, some of the governor's top advisers were meeting yesterday, proposing ways to save money and jobs, according to John Ryan, the governor's communications director.

Some of the officials attending the meeting were John Tarantino, Rev and Tax Director George Cruz, Bureau of Budget and Management Research Director Paul Leon Guerrero and Department of Administration acting Director Cliff Guzman.

Administration officials declined comment on their proposals.

Governor's spokesman Bill Phillips said government agencies were supposed to begin submitting their layoff assessments to the governor's office yesterday, with work to continue through the weekend.

Those assessments will be used to determine which positions must be cut so layoff notices can be issued.

In related news, the Legislature planned to meet with administration officials at 2 p.m. yesterday to discuss what is being done to collect past-due taxes and federal reimbursements.

Moylan said administration officials have pledged to collect as much as $37 million in past-due taxes and $24 million in federal reimbursements before the end of the fiscal year.

A few hours before the meeting, Gov. Carl Gutierrez sent a letter to Moylan, asking him to move the meeting to Adelup.

Moylan said he did not attend the meeting called by the governor because he was informed by administration officials that they did not have the financial information requested by the committee.

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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