Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (July 18) – Since taking office, Gov. Felix Camacho has maintained that his administration would be open and transparent to the public -- a promise that he and his administration has failed to live up to.

Most recently, the Camacho administration announced that the federal government paid GovGuam US$21.17 million to cover tax refunds paid for by GovGuam that should have been paid by the IRS. But though negotiations for the money began in February and the administration knew by May that it would get the money, it didn't inform the Legislature or anyone else until last week.

Even worse, it appears as if the administration kept this information secret in order to create a climate of fear to justify hefty increases to government fees, as well as the creation of new fees. The fiscal 2007 budget revision included these fees, which were supposed to make up for shortfalls in projected revenue. He made the case that without the revenue from these fees, the government wouldn't be able to operate, and went so far as to go through the motions of initiating furloughs.

He made it seem as if there was no choice but to raise fees and implement new fees because there just wasn't enough money. But the whole time, Camacho was apparently hoodwinking lawmakers, as well as the entire community, because he knew there was more than $21 million in federal money coming through soon.

And despite the announcement of this "sudden" influx of cash into government coffers, Camacho apparently has no plans to revoke or postpone fee increases or the new fees. Why should he? It just means more money for him to spend in sustaining, if not increasing, the overly bloated government of Guam.

Speaker Mark Forbes said the fee increases will be revisited. But the issue can't be pushed back or put off. It needs to be addressed immediately. The newly created fees and increases to existing fees are a huge burden to residents and businesses, and the ones who are hurt most are those who can least afford it. The longer lawmakers put off discussions to postpone or revoke the fee increases, the worse off this community will be.

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