Governor Calvo Signs Guam 2014 Budget Bill Into Law

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Calls bill ‘worst exercise of political gamesmanship in two years’

By Frank Whitman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Sept. 12, 2013) – Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo yesterday signed the fiscal 2014 budget bill, Bill No. 1 (4-S), into law.

However, in a three-page letter to the Legislature, he made clear his reservations about what is now Public Law 32-068. He also line-item vetoed the amount appropriated for the Legislature’s Office of Finance and Budget, reducing it by 10 percent.

"The passage of this bill is the worst exercise of political gamesmanship over the past two years," he wrote to legislators. "It is so painfully obvious some senators had just one thought in mind: ‘Where can the Legislature appropriate all this money for the greatest number of votes?’"

The only reason he signed the bill, the governor said, was because it gave him the authority to provide funds for Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) immediately. "For the record, you were only willing to give me this authority if I were willing to accept all the other provisions of your budget," Calvo wrote. "If this is what it takes to convince the Democrats that GMH is worth funding, then I acquiesce."

There were provisions he objected to, but that could only be eliminated by vetoing the entire bill, he said. In the letter, the governor recounted the history of legislative overspending and the resulting fiscal problems, and said the current legislators were continuing on that path.

Conditions

Future spending bills will be subject to stringent conditions, he said. "Heed this warning, senators," he wrote. "From this point forward, I will veto any appropriation bill or any bill requiring funding" unless it contains:

He explained the single line-item veto in the law by thanking the legislators for demonstrating fiscal restraint in reducing the budget of the Bureau of Budget Management and Research, the governor’s "budget arm" by 10 percent from that requested.

"However, I believe by oversight you neglected to allow the Office of Finance and Budget, the Legislature’s budget arm, to share in this example," Calvo wrote. "I have made the correction for you through my line-item veto authority." The appropriation in the bill as passed was $378,737.

He also scolded senators for adding to the work of executive branch employees with "onerous mandates" and "superfluous reporting requirements" and for trying to "hamstring" the administration.

The Legislature unanimously passed Bill 1 (4-S) on Sept. 4. It was the seventh version of the fiscal 2014 government of Guam budget to be considered by the Legislature during often contentious deliberations and exchanges between Calvo and Sen. Ben Pangelinan, chairman of the legislature’s finance committee.

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