By Johnnie Rosario
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, reporting a $50 million year-to-date local deficit for, and woefully behind in the payment of tax refunds, has turned to Congressman Michael San Nicolas to include an amendment in the federal HEROES Act that will be Guam's saving grace from fiscal mismanagement. She wants Congress, through the HEROES Act, to reimburse Guam for tax credits GovGuam pays to the working poor via the federally-mandated earned income credit, commonly called the EITC.
The EITC is applied on tax returns, and often yields large tax refunds, especially to people who made meager wages and have large families to feed.
There are just two problems with Ms. Leon Guerrero's political charade (she sent a press release without trying to communicate directly with Mr. San Nicolas):
The HEROES Act already passed the U.S. House and is now with the Senate; and
The congressman ALREADY included a ground-breaking amendment to have the federal government reimburse Guam 75 percent of EITC payments.
If this doesn't sound like news at all, it's because it isn't. Mr. San Nicolas told the media and the public about this amendment twice in the last year.
On February 8, Kandit News reported the passage of HR 5687 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Included in that measure was an amendment by Mr. San Nicolas to rebate 75 percent of Guam's EITC payments.
"With a 75% reimbursement, Guam will recover approximately $40 million in EITC costs every year, enabling us to pay tax refunds faster, address our hospital and public safety needs, and start getting some roads repaired," Congressman San Nicolas said at the time.
Mr. San Nicolas did seek and receive support from Guam's Republican Party. You know who didn't support the effort? Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. The heartbeat of every piece of legislation in Congress stopped, when the nation was hit with the Coronavirus crisis.
As Congress was contemplating a so-called 'CARES Act Part II' through the HEROES Act, Mr. San Nicolas managed to include HR 5687's EITC rebate language into the HEROES Act.
On May 15, Kandit News reported this achievement and the congressman's updated request for bipartisan local support of the measure. Again, the Republican Party of Guam stepped up to the plate, while the governor did not.
“As Governor, I ask that you aggressively pursue through legislation or through support of the HEROES Act, Section 20121 regarding the Federal funding of EITC,” Ms. Leon Guerrero said in a press release to Mr. San Nicolas today.
He responded, telling the governor he had already included the language in the HEROES Act, and reminding her that, despite her lament that she has to pay out the EITC via tax refunds, she voted for the local law that made the EITC a local liability in 1996, when she was a freshman senator and Robert Underwood was Guam's delegate to Congress.
"We will work to correct the legacy EITC liability that originated locally during the Underwood congressional era, and seek federal reimbursement to correct this error in the HEROES Act; in the interim I respectfully advise the Governor to follow the law and pay the tax refunds owed as soon as possible," Congressman San Nicolas said in his response to the governor.