Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Sept. 10) - Our elected officials really need a wake-up call from whatever dream world they're living in. They need to face up to the hard realities of the government of Guam's true financial picture (if anyone truly knows what that is).

The administration and Legislature are acting as if GovGuam's fiscal crisis has stalled, and that better days are just around the corner.

GovGuam employees went back to full 40-hour workweeks in early August because the administration said it met its goal of cutting personnel expenses by $15 million and because the Department of Revenue and Taxation had collected more past-due taxes than expected. The agency reorganization process drags on, with no significant savings in the short term. And a lot of hope is pinned on a proposed bond that not only has been challenged, but wouldn't bring in money for several months, at best. And many senators feel that the best time to take vacations is in the middle of budget discussions with the new fiscal year just weeks away.

The truth is, this government continues to face some very severe monetary problems that won't vanish because of some wishful thinking. Tough decisions need to be made on the cost-cutting side if any real, significant improvement is going to be seen, and they need to be made NOW.

Just ask Guam Memorial Hospital Administrator Bill McMillan. He is forced to pay employees late and provide only net pay because GovGuam doesn't have money to pay its Medically Indigent Program bill to GMH. He's ready to cut jobs and services at the island's only civilian hospital because GovGuam can't meet these financial obligations.

Ask Juan Flores and other education department administrators, who have to pack students into hot classrooms for less than the five hours of educational time required by law because money can't be found to fix air conditioning. Ask them the next time power is cut off because DOE can't pay the bills.

Ask residents who have waited too long for their tax refunds. Ask vendors who still wait for their bills to be paid. Ask businesses and residents who struggle with higher costs of living and doing business because, instead of making needed cuts, government raises taxes, fees and utility rates.

Ask the ratepayers who can't depend on their water to run each day because the money isn't there to repair and replace aging water and sewer systems.

It's plain to everyone (except maybe our elected officials) that our public servants aren't doing enough to handle the government's financial crisis.

Help wake them up. Call their offices, fax them letters, or stop by in person.

Maybe then they'll get the message and get to work fixing our island, rather than just talking about doing so.

September 10, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 


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