GUAM MUST DO ITS PART IN COST OF MILITARY BUILDUP

Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Feb. 16, 2010) - In his final State of the Island address, Gov. Felix Camacho said the government would ensure the military buildup was good for Guam, but for that to happen the federal government would have to pay for it all.

He called on the federal government to fund improvements and upgrades to island infrastructure and government services, because the local government lacks the financial capability to do so.

We all want the buildup to benefit the entire island. The federal government has made it a point to involve local government officials, agencies, businesses and the public in the planning process, which has been going on for several years now. Businesses have been planning and positioning to take full advantage of the opportunities the buildup offers.

But the local government has failed in this regard. The sad truth is that the vast majority of government agencies and services aren't up to par for the current population. Public schools are poorly maintained, the hospital is too small, mental health services are lacking, and there aren't enough police. This is true with or without the military buildup.

Local elected officials consistently blame the lack of adequate government services on a lack of money.

But they manage every year to pay out cost-of-living allowances to GovGuam retirees, as well as supplemental annuities, even though the payments aren't mandatory. Elected officials also have refused to cut the size and cost of government. They've avoided outsourcing to the private sector. They continue to borrow and sink future generations of Guamanians deeper into debt.

And they've failed to adequately prepare and plan for the military buildup. Their only plan seems to be to demand the federal government pay for everything and anything.

Guam must accept its share of responsibility for the military buildup. The local government must do more than hold out its hand for money from Uncle Sam; there must be solid plans in place, including how to fund needed projects.

Elected officials need to ask not what the federal government can do for them, but what they must do for the people of Guam.

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