Senator Taitague to colleagues on GovGuam finances:
FY 2020 & FY 2021 budgets should recognize struggling tourism industry and thousands of unemployed, underemployed Guamanians
The following is news from the Office of Sen. Telo Taitague, the Republican leader in the Guam Legislature:
Minority Leader Telo Taitague is concerned that administration officials don’t share a similar level of concern about the long-term financial impacts COVID-19 will have on Guam’s economy. While government finance officials suggested at yesterday’s Special Economic Service (SES) meeting that adjustments to the FY 2021 budget, if any, should be considered later in May or even next month, senators were also apprised of the reality Guam faces such as our non-existent tourism industry and significant reductions in Tourist Attraction Fund collections. Additionally, no new information was made available during the SES meeting regarding implementation of the local Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Local media reports estimate there are currently more than 6,000 employees who have been laid off and another 5,000 who have had their work works reduced due to COVID-19.
“The SES discussion yesterday failed to recognize that GovGuam needs to immediately revisit adopted revenue levels for FY 2020 and revenue projections for FY 2021. The addition of millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 assistance to our local economy doesn’t give leaders an excuse to not realign spending priorities going forward. With the timely creation of the Budget Committee’s Advisory Commission on Government Reorganization and Revitalization prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, I’m curious to see if any recommendations have come out of the group that would help control costs and acknowledge the realities of a struggling tourism industry and thousands of unemployed and underemployed Guamanians,” stated Senator Taitague.
“With so many of our families impacted by COVID-19, tourism basically at a halt, and businesses across our island either closed or struggling to stay open, policymakers need to understand that while the status quo may seem good for them and public sector employees – there are thousands of Guamanians in the private sector who are no longer receiving a paycheck or have less hours to earn pay because of the pandemic. I don’t believe the SES discussion on GovGuam’s budget and economic outlook is consistent with the realities many of our families are facing. Moreover, I urge my colleagues to demand more answers from finance officials, especially from those who – instead of erring on the side of caution – want to paint a rosy picture of the weeks and months ahead,” concluded Senator Taitague.