GUAM GOVERNOR CALLS SPECIAL SESSION ON BUDGET

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Wants more discussion after lawmakers spike bond provisions

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept., 7, 2011) – Gov. Eddie Calvo has called the Guam Legislature into another special session this morning, continuing a budget battle over bond borrowing. The session is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Calvo called for the session in a letter sent to Speaker Judith Won Pat this morning. In the letter, Calvo expressed frustration that his budget proposals have been overlooked. "The bill attached here has never had the benefit of debate on the floor of the Legislature, much like the original budget bill I submitted and the budget bill the Legislature was supposed to consider yesterday on the floor," Calvo wrote in the letter.

[PIR editor’s note: The Retirement Fund, to which the Guam government owes nearly US$36.6 million, has argued that the US$343 million bond-borrowing proposal must provide for payment back to the Fund, or the Health Insurance Bailout Agreement will be breached. The Fund can then choose to refuse to pay new benefits and stop processing retirement benefits to government agencies.]

"And just like the bill I submitted for consideration in special session yesterday, there is no other legislation that can be considered, according to the law of the land, either by debate or in substitution. No procedural maneuver should circumvent the Organic Act of Guam. What is most disheartening, as an elected official and a colleague to those who serve under your house of government, is that the senators of the Guam Legislature have been continuously robbed of their responsibility and privilege to consider legislation I have submitted," Calvo wrote. "Their concerns, their questions and their debate on the merits of the ideas that have come before them have gone unanswered, not because someone refused to answer them, but because the legislative leadership has refused to even allow the forum for their consideration."

[PIR editor's note: The legislature on Guam had approved the substituted budget as proposed by Gov. Calvo, but without bond borrowing that could lead to a government shutdown.]

Calvo and the Democratic majority in the Legislature have been at odds over budget bills for weeks. Calvo has proposed a budget that would borrow $347 million to pay off overdue tax refunds, but the Democrats will not support borrowing that much. An alternative budget bill, which Democrats do support, would borrow $180 million.

Senators were expected to discuss Calvo’s proposal during a special session yesterday, but instead they swapped out the governor’s bond provision, passing a wholly different budget bill with the same name. Sen. Ben Pangelinan said this was done to keep GovGuam from entering a shutdown, and that senators planned to find a borrowing plan at a later date. The Office of the Attorney General has said the government could shut down without a valid budget law.

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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