Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (, Oct. 4 2010) – In the coming years, Guam will see an influx of billions of dollars into the local economy, thanks to the military buildup. And the government of Guam will share in this boom, with about $100 million to $150 million in additional tax revenue during the peak of the buildup and $80 million to $100 million more in revenue in the years following the buildup.

But that time hasn't yet come and, until it does, our elected officials have a duty and obligation to ensure the government of Guam lives within its means.

That means operating under a balanced budget, which hasn't happened for years. And despite some elected officials saying the fiscal 2011 budget is balanced, sound and reasonable, it is far from so.

The budget doesn't account for several items that will result in the further growth of the government of Guam's deficit and these glaring shortfalls need to be corrected and the budget balanced.

The government of Guam continually raids the fund meant to pay out tax refunds, which means it's unable to pay them on a timely basis. When it finally does pay refunds, it must compensate taxpayers with interest. Yet the fiscal 2011 budget doesn't account for those interest payments.

The budget also doesn't factor in the annual payments that are required to repay the bond to build the new John F. Kennedy High School, which will cost millions of dollars every year for the next 30 years.

And last week, the government of Guam Bureau of Budget and Management Research Administrator Bertha Duenas admitted that elected officials didn't budget enough for the health benefits.

The health insurance contract for government employees will cost the government about $48 million for fiscal 2011. But elected officials only earmarked $28.3 million for health insurance, a gap of $19.7 million.

The governor's office said it will work with lawmakers to find a solution to the shortfall.

The solution is to revisit the entire budget and to make cuts in other areas so it can pay for these unaccounted for spending gaps. These cuts won't be easy, but this community needs for its elected officials to do their jobs and come up with a budget that is fiscally responsible and balanced.

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