Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Jan 3, 2010) - This year is an election year, which will mean politicians will be making a host of promises regarding what they will do for the island if they are elected or re-elected for Guam. Voters must take this opportunity to push for those currently in office to focus on key priority areas.

To begin with, the local government is sorely unprepared for the military buildup, despite having years to get ready. There is a lack of planning for many critical areas, including education, public health, public safety and social services.

This is simply unacceptable. Elected officials need to get government agencies on the ball. There need to be solid plans in place for which kinds of increases are needed -- in personnel, services and facilities. The draft Environmental Impact Statement provides population projections that can be used to make these assessments. These plans also must include funding strategies.

The next priority must be fiscal responsibility. The many changes needed for the military buildup will require that elected officials maximize government resources in the best interest of the public while eliminating wasteful spending.

One effective way to accomplish this is to further outsource government services that can be provided by private companies. Privatization not only reduces government costs while maintaining, if not improving, reliability of services, but it also means increased government revenues because businesses have to pay fees and taxes that agencies don't have to pay. However, it's key that GovGuam vastly improve the timeliness of vendor payments, so services aren't jeopardized.

It's also critical for elected officials to take action to resolve the near-constant state of crisis at our island's public schools. Our students are our next generation of leaders, and we must stop under-servicing their needs.

Elected officials must ensure the school system lives up to the Every Child Is Entitled to an Adequate Public Education Act, so that students have adequate facilities, enough qualified teachers and a curriculum that best serves their needs.

Part of making this happen will require getting rid of the current school board, which is a failed experiment. The Guam Education Policy Board has regularly endangered much-needed federal funding and ignored the best interest of public school students. It's past time we implement a different model of school board to find one that works better for our community.

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