Guam Likely To See Compact Impact Funding Cut

admin's picture

Interior Department claims population shifted to Hawai‘i, CNMI

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 1, 2014) – Guam may receive $1.9 million less in compact-impact funding next fiscal year, according to the Department of Interior's budget request.

If approved, Guam would receive only $14.9 million instead of the usual $16.8 million to offset the cost of providing government services to regional immigrants.

The money taken from Guam will instead be given to Hawaii and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the budget request. Hawaii would get $1.5 million more and the CNMI would get $379,000.

An Interior official during a House subcommittee hearing yesterday said the cut is due to a decline in the population of regional migrants on Guam and increases in other areas.

Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo, who sat the on the panel, was unconvinced.

Guam has a large and growing migrant population, she said, adding that she wants the Interior Department to provide more information to justify the funding cut for the island.

No details

The Insular Affairs budget request for fiscal 2015 notes the Guam cut and the increased funding for Hawaii and the Northern Marianas, but it doesn't provide population figures to explain the change. The money had been allocated according to the results of the 2010 Census.

The shift is based on a 2013 count of regional migrants, according to testimony provided yesterday by the Office of Insular Affairs.

"The budget request for 2015 reflects the new findings, which show a decrease in the numbers of (freely associated states) citizens in Guam, and increases in Hawaii and the CNMI," said Thomas Bussanich, director of budget with the Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs.

Sharing the pot

Guam, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa share the $30 million annual funding through 2023 to help them provide health care, education, public safety and social services to immigrants from three island nations that have compact-of-free-association agreements with the United States.

The money is distributed according to the immigrant population, and all jurisdictions have said the annual funding falls far short of the actual cost of providing government services.

Bussanich's testimony didn't specify the population decrease for Guam, but he said that Hawaii and the CNMI combined have seen an increase of 1,920 immigrants from the freely associated states.

Almost a quarter of the citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau now live in the United States, and Guam hosts most of them, a federal report released last year shows.

The migration has made Guam home to 32.5 percent of the about 56,000 people from the FSM, Palau and the Marshall Islands who have relocated to the United States, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report in July last year shows.

Guam has calculated its cost of providing services to the immigrants to be at least four times what the federal government provides, Pacific Daily News files show.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment