GUAM FINANCIAL CRISIS WORSENS WHILE LAWMAKERS DEBATE

Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (March 30) – Over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly frustrating to watch the administration and the Legislature "work" on addressing the government of Guam's financial crisis, in large part because it seems they've all lacked a sense of urgency in dealing with the situation.

Discussions on Gov. Felix Camacho's fiscal recovery plan have dragged on and on – but never began at too early a time, never very late into the day, and never on the weekends.

Last week, senators had issue with some of the administration's financial numbers, and told the governor's office to come back Monday morning with supporting data. But the administration was a no-show. When the administration finally complied, senators noticed discrepancies between the plan and the resource data, and asked the governor's office to resolve the differences between the numbers.

Yesterday, the questions and explanations continued at the Legislature's session hall. And yet it still seems as if senators and administration representatives aren't worried about the amount of time they are taking to come up with a plan.

Every day that passes without any significant changes to government operations, the Government of Guam's financial crisis worsens. These elected officials need to work harder and faster at coming up with measures to alleviate the government's continuing fiscal problems.

And senators and the governor's office need to understand that the primary component of any financial recovery plan must be a reduction in the size and cost of government. And because the vast majority of the government's budget goes toward payroll, it's critical that personnel costs be significantly reduced.

This can be done in a number of ways. The government can furlough or lay off employees, starting with the least necessary agencies and unclassified employees (this should be a last resort). It can drastically reduce salaries. It can comprehensively outsource government services, and thus positions, to the private sector (thus collecting more income from taxes). Or, some combination of these measures can be implemented.

Any fiscal recovery plan that fails to include a significant reduction in government personnel expenses is nothing more than a Band-Aid, stopgap fix to a fiscal arterial bleeding problem – and the financial crisis will rapidly resurge.

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