GUAM ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN IMPLEMENTED: OFFICIALS

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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (April 5, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---The administration is following the Legislature's cost-cutting and revenue-generating plan, which became law March 24, according to the governor's office.

Gov. Carl Gutierrez asked lawmakers to consider his cost-cutting and revenue-generating proposals, but senators passed their own bill, which calls for a hiring freeze, power conservation, and aggressive collection of federal grants and delinquent taxes.

The Legislature's plan also cuts line agency cash allotments by $8 million, but prohibits cuts in public health, public safety and education.

The administration is implementing the Legislature's recovery plan for the government, said governor's communications director John Ryan.

"There is a full hiring freeze in place," said Dan Astorga, the government's personnel services administrator.

He said the hiring freeze applies to all positions, except for positions that are 100-percent federally funded, or positions that are excluded by law, such as police officers, doctors and teachers.

However, government agencies still are expected to run out of cash and will begin shutting down, Ryan said, adding that he does not know which agencies will be closed first.

The governor has said the government will have a cash shortfall of about $60 million this year, and he proposed layoffs, pay cuts, reduced work weeks and a tax increase as ways to cut costs and generate additional money.

"As far as I know, we are in compliance with that public law," Ryan said. "Nothing has changed financially.... It's a foregone conclusion that there are departments and agencies of the government that are going to run out of cash."

The new law requires government agencies to submit weekly reports to the Legislature on the status of efforts to collect federal money and past due taxes.

The Department of Administration reported that GovGuam collected $10 million of the $23.6 million it is owed in federal grants, according to the Committee on Ways and Means.

The Department of Revenue and Taxation has not yet submitted its report, but it was expected to be submitted yesterday.

A report on the number of frozen GovGuam jobs has not been submitted, although the deadline for that report was Wednesday.

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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