Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Mar. 12) - The repeal of the 50 percent increase to the Gross Receipts tax rate was signed into law two days ago, followed with the usual political posturing, both from the administration and the Democratic leadership of the Legislature.

On Wednesday, Gov. Felix Camacho said rolling back the increase was the right thing to do, but said the Legislature now has to address the shortfalls that will happen this fiscal year because there now will be less money going into government coffers. In his radio address yesterday, Speaker Ben Pangelinan said he was glad the governor was following the Legislature, but expressed disappointment that Camacho wasn't being a leader.

This being an election year, perhaps it is too much to expect that such political gamesmanship would be restrained. When elected officials expend so much effort on assigning blame or assuming credit, the people of Guam suffer. For the sake of this community, the executive and legislative branches have to rise above pettiness and politics.

Both sides have said that they are willing to sit down and talk. It's time for them to it. The egos and political motives must be left at the door. Both sides must be ready to talk compromise in an open, honest and upfront manner.

They need to agree on how the GRT rollback will affect revenues. Then, they must work together on making this government run effectively and within the modified budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

They will also have to start work on fiscal 2005. Again, this will mean agreeing on a number for GovGuam revenues, then budgeting to stay within -- or better yet below -- that figure while properly prioritizing critical government services.

Both sides must accept economic realities. This might mean cutting some government jobs. It may mean shutting down agencies of least importance, so that priority services are maintained.

And both sides will have to jointly accept the praise and blame that will come with the needed cuts. That's what true statesmanship is all about -- doing what needs to be done for the good of the community, in spite of potential criticism.

March 12, 2004

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