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Proposed Federal budget shows same figure as last year

By Meryl Dillman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 15, 2012) – Guam should receive the same amount of federal compact-impact funds, which are meant to help the island host regional immigrants, in fiscal 2013 as in fiscal 2012.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget, which was released yesterday, includes $30 million for compact impact, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Guam receives about half of that impact money every year for hosting immigrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands. The island nations' residents can enter Guam and other U.S. jurisdictions under Compact of free association agreements.

This fiscal year, Guam received about $16.6 million, according to Adam Carbullido, press secretary for Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. Guam received about $16.8 million in fiscal 2011, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Obama also requested $5 million to implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate the impacts and costs of compact migration, according to a press release from Bordallo's office.

What that plan entails has not been released by the Obama administration, according to Carbullido. Exactly how much Guam will receive in compact-impact funds also hasn't been released but the allocation of compact-impact funding is based on a formula established by statute, and Guam has consistently received about $16 million in recent years.

'Woefully inadequate'

Although Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, said he is thankful the president provides this funding, it's not enough. "I think everyone agrees it's woefully inadequate to meet the cost that we incur," he said.

He said based on calculations and audits done in the past on Guam, it's been determined that Guam incurs about $60 million a year related to hosting regional migrants.

A Department of the Interior report estimates the Guam government paid $324.5 million to provide educational and social services to regional migrants between 2004 and 2010, files state.

Pangelinan also said part of the money given to Guam is already allocated by local lawmakers – creating even less money for the government to work with each year to fund health, education and safety agencies for costs related to hosting the regional migrants.

According to a Pacific Daily News report in 2006, under a Municipal Leasing Plan, $6.1 million of compact funding each year for 20 years goes to the Guam Educational Financing Foundation, which is a nonprofit corporation formed by Iron Bridge Capital Partners LLC.

The nonprofit is being repaid for the cost of building four island public schools, files state.

That leaves about $10 million in funds left over each year. Pangelinan introduced a resolution last month outlining what he thought the remaining money for fiscal 2012 should be spent on. The resolution includes $3.2 million to make repairs and renovations to Untalan Middle School, which was closed down last month for health and safety violations, and about $4.83 million for the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority for pharmaceutical supplies and the Medically Indigent Program.

Sen. Frank Blas, Jr., R-Barrigada, who is running for Guam delegate to Congress, said he is consistently disappointed in the money Guam sees. He said the money appropriated to Guam "doesn't even cover half of what we spend on an annual basis."

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