HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 8) - The state of the government of Guam's finances is no secret: Everyone knows that there isn't enough revenue coming in to sustain the kind of historical spending our elected officials have willfully chosen to continue.

That's why it's critical for senators and the administration to cut costs, improve efficiencies, consolidate services and privatize government functions, and to expend the government's very limited funds on the top priorities of this community first and foremost.

It seems so simple and clear, yet our elected officials don't seem to grasp these concepts. That was again made clear last week, when the administration released almost $2.28 million -- of the $6.9 million senators approved in the budget -- to pay supplemental annuities to GovGuam retirees.

Administration officials admitted that making the payment meant the paying of other bills, including utilities, would be delayed. The problem is one of cash management, according to John Dela Rosa, Gov. Felix Camacho's spokesman; only certain bills can be paid at any given time. Adding to the problem is the $209 million in money the government owes from previous fiscal years, he said.

This continuing form of political payola decision-making -- at taxpayer expense -- reinforces the message to everyone, except GovGuam retirees and their families, that there are no real spending priorities in the government of Guam.

What about public schools, many of which lack adequate air conditioning and have cafeterias that don't pass basic health standards? What about students who continue to deal with late buses on a chronic basis? Let's not forget the police officers who still are waiting for overtime pay from four years ago, and the problems the hospital has meeting costs -- and the many other shortfalls in education, public safety and health.

Our elected officials have to end this practice of financial juggling to garner future votes. Sooner or later, something's going to fall and break, and the ones who will suffer because of it are the taxpaying citizens of this community.

December 8, 2003

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