Guam Judiciary Avoids Proposed Work Hour Cuts

admin's picture

Government releases $1.2 million in overdue appropriations

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3, 2013) – The Judiciary of Guam won't need to cut court hours now that it's getting $1.2 million in past due appropriations.

Yesterday, Supreme Court of Guam Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido announced that Gov. Eddie Calvo will release $1.2 million to the Judiciary.

The Judiciary was looking to cut the workweek at the island's courthouses in Hagåtña and Dededo down from 40 to 36 hours because of a $1.7 million shortfall.

The court system left vacancies unfilled -- to cover about half of the gap without cutting hours. The Judiciary also looked for additional revenue from increased fines and fees, which go into affect this month and are expected to generate about $300,000.

Even with those cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing measures the Judiciary's budget wasn't enough to cover its operational needs for the fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013.

In fiscal 2011, the Judiciary was appropriated $24.7 million, according to Judiciary budget documents. In fiscal 2012, they were appropriated $21.4 million. In fiscal 2013, the appropriated budget was $23.3 million.

Unreleased funding

Though money was appropriated, the amount they received in previous years fell short. Unreleased appropriations from prior years amounted to $1.8 million.

According to the press release, the amounts were incurred before Calvo got into office, according to the Judiciary's press release.

The $1.2 million will clear most of the past due appropriations. Carbullido said once they receive the money the remaining $600,000 owed will be written off.

Financial worries

Even with this money, the Judiciary's money concerns remain. Bill 507, which started as a measure to cut government spending up to $72 million before it was significantly changed by legislators, lapsed into law recently. While senators cut out most of the money-saving measures, sections 5 and 6 of Public Law 31-279 cuts salaries of employees making more than $50,000 annually by 10 percent.

Carbullido sent a letter to the Legislature yesterday urging for the repeal of those sections that affect the Judiciary.

"This reduction, on top of the reduction in the FY2013 operating budget of the Judiciary is a major setback for the Judiciary," Carbullido said.

Sen. Rory Respicio responded yesterday to Carbullido's concerns by introducing Bill 543. The bill would re-enact the provision, but would exclude judicial employees.

A public hearing hasn't been announced for Bill 543. Speaker Judith Won Pat has called for legislative session tomorrow.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment