Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Sept. 1, 2010) - For once, our elected officials need to pass a budget that is balanced -- one that doesn’t spend more than the government collects annually in revenue.

In an address to the Rotary Club of Northern Guam, Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks said the government "consistently overestimates revenues and underestimates expenditures." This poor fiscal policy has resulted in a deficit of US$265 million after fiscal 2009 -- an amount that has only grown since then.

One of the major problems noted by Brooks was the failure of elected officials to include known expenditures in the budget. For example, the payments on the bond that will be used to rebuild John F. Kennedy High School have yet to be included in the fiscal 2011 budget. Elected officials never include the interest to be paid on tax refunds either, she says, and that has grown from US$2 million owed in 2002 to more than US$16 million for 2010.

This community can’t afford for elected officials to continue to overspend. It is grossly irresponsible.

Families and businesses know they can’t operate in this fashion. When expenses rise or revenues fall, they adjust their budgets accordingly or face financial ruin.

Our elected officials need to learn this critical financial lesson. In the past, they’ve dealt with the problem by borrowing more and more money to pay off debts. But the local government simply doesn’t have the ability to borrow further.

What’s needed is common sense frugality and austerity. Elected officials must ensure every expense is accounted for, and the adjust government spending based on projected revenues.

This will mean making some tough cuts, but it must be done while ensuring priority services are the top priority. Further outsourcing government services and functions make sense, because this will not only reduce costs but also will result in additional taxes and fees for the local government.

The bottom line is simple: Elected officials must no longer spend more than the government collects.

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