By Eric Rosario
Rather than keeping their promise to roll back the 25 percent increase to the business privilege tax that is killing small businesses, senators instead voted today to force an agency to spend money making a hiking guide.
Fourteen out of 15 senators voted to approve Sen. Kelly Taitano's Bill No. 241, which mandates the Department of Parks and Recreation to assess outdoor recreation areas throughout the island and then create education awareness and outreach programs.
"At a time when many in our community are awaiting unemployment assistance and finding ways to feed their families, it disappoints me that this is an issue of priority when it comes to legislative action," Sen. Jim Moylan said. "This is why I voted 'no' on the measure."
Senators have excused their inaction throughout this term on measures to roll back the BPT increase by lamenting the lack of financial information to form thoughtful support behind the repeal. They also have cited the need to understand how the revenue from the increased BPT can be replaced, or somehow managed to keep from affecting appropriation levels to the executive agencies.
Yet, senators passed this additional mandate through its halls, which not only calls on the use of resources from DPR. Bill No. 241 also mandates the Guam Fire Department and the Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance, "subject to the availability of funds."
What that means is that if GFD and Agriculture are able to fulfill their existing mandates within their existing budget levels, and revenue is left in those agencies, the Taitano hiking mandate will be funded. It is mandated to be funded and to be done.
So much for senators keeping their promises to roll back the BPT.
Bill No. 241 will be transmitted to the governor for her approval or rejection.