So I realllly thought this was worth sharing.
I appreciate the facts in the below letter from Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz to Governor Eddie B. Calvo in response to the Governor’s lapse message on the Annual Appropriations Act of FY 2017 (Substitute Bill No. 250-33).
September 10, 2016
The Honorable Edward J.B. Calvo
Governor of Guam
Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex
Hagåtña, Guam 96910
Re: Response to Lapse Message on Substitute Bill No. 250-33 (COR)
Dear Governor Calvo:
Håfa adai! On September 1, 2016, I delivered a letter to you relative to the concerns you identified regarding Substitute Bill No. 250-33 (SB250), now the Annual Appropriations Act of FY 2017. I had hoped my clarifications would have prompted you to direct your fiscal team to reconsider its initial findings on SB250. Unfortunately, based on your lapse message to Speaker Judith T. Won Pat, you have disregarded the facts raised in my letter. Instead, you remain committed to a misguided temper-tantrum against the overwhelming bipartisan majority of senators who crafted the budget, which is now law.
Put simply Governor, fourteen senators built a budget that made sense because you transmitted a budget that made things up. As I have said before, the General Fund revenues you provided to the Committee on Appropriations and Adjudication (Committee) were inflated, overly aggressive, reckless, and irresponsible.
As such—and for the second consecutive fiscal year—both the Committee and the Office of Finance and Budget (OFB) worked diligently to correct General Fund Revenue Projections to a more conservative level. Because of this work, your General Fund revenues (which presumed a 10.7% increase in the General Fund as compared to FY 2016’s adopted levels) were reduced by $55 million.
Notwithstanding this reduction in General Fund revenues, there continues to be $18 million more appropriated from General Fund revenues in SB250 than in Public Law 33-66 (Annual Appropriations Act of FY 2016).
In light of the glaring contradictions and misunderstandings perpetuated by your fiscal team, I will take the time here to address every “concern” raised in your recent letter to the Speaker:
1. Department of Corrections (DOC): You claim that there is a $2.8 million shortfall for the DOC-Guam Memorial Hospital Authority consolidated cooperative agreement.
Fact: Section 1(n)(3), Chapter V of SB250 allocates $1.1 million toward this agreement. This is the same figure provided in DOC’s FY2017 detailed budget request. This request was certified by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR) and provided to the Committee.
2. Guam Police Department (GPD) and Guam Fire Department (GFD): You claim that there was a $3.7 million cut from GPD which would have gone to hiring more police officers, promoting officers, and covering anticipated overtime and utilities. You also claim that there was a $1.8 million shortfall for GFD that would have gone to hiring vacant positions.
Fact: I would like to direct you to the OFB Website at ofbguam.org, which can provide you and your fiscal team with comparative appropriation levels from FYs 2015 to 2017. There you will discover that GPD and GFD have consistently received an increase in appropriation levels over the past three (3) fiscal years.
Over the past two (2) fiscal years, the Guam Legislature has appropriated to, and prioritized the recruitment and hiring of, additional public safety officers for DOC, GPD, and the GFD, providing nearly $9.5 million ($6.2 million in FY 2015 and $3.3 million in FY 2016). You have not utilized this funding source to the full benefit of our people.
In the original version of SB250, the Committee wanted to truly prioritize funding to DOC, GPD, and GFD by restricting your ability to both transfer funds out of and reserve spending authority from these agencies. Yet, at the request of certain senior Adelup officials, an amendment was made to delete the transfer authority restriction—providing you with the authority to take money from agencies you say are so shortchanged.
1. Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center (GBHWC): You claim that there was no funding for the GBHWC Drug & Alcohol Prevention and the Focus on Life Suicide Prevention Programs.
Fact: Sections 2 and 3, Part III, Chapter III of SB250 clearly allocate funding in the amount of $1.57 million and $86,000 to these programs, respectively.
2. Retirees Medical, Dental, and Life Insurance Premiums: You haphazardly claim that there is a $4 million shortfall in Retiree MDL Insurance Premiums.
Fact: Both you and Lieutenant Governor Tenorio were completely aware of the appropriation level in SB250 prior to the signing of the FY 2017 Health Insurance Contract. In that contract, Lieutenant Governor Tenorio selected a non-exclusive contract and that “choice” will now cost the taxpayers of Guam $21.6 million more than the alternative. I will admit: it takes a lot of brass to blame me for a shortfall your administration has chosen to create.
I should not have to remind you that, as of the end of FY 2015, the government of Guam is facing a $120 million General Fund deficit because of what the Public Auditor has called “overspending.”
The memo sent to you by the Health Insurance Negotiations Committee states, that with the selection of an exclusive health insurance carrier—in other words, one (1) carrier which was TakeCare Insurance—the government of Guam would have saved $20 million. Yet, despite this information, Lieutenant Governor Tenorio still decided to choose the non-exclusive option which included Calvo’s SelectCare, Netcare, and TakeCare Insurance at a $1.6 million increase over what was spent in 2016.
Governor Calvo, it is decisions like these that make so many people wonder how you can continue to complain about shortfalls when your administration has had such a large hand in creating them.
Your administration had the opportunity to save $21.6 million, money that could have met any of the alleged shortfalls you are now lamenting. How many policemen could $21 million support? How many lifesaving pharmaceuticals could it buy? Your administration had all of the information and the power to save millions, and it said “no.” Sadly, the consequences of that poor decision will not belong to you alone.
3. Residential Treatment Fund (RTF): You claim that the RTF appropriation is short by $1.6 million.
Fact: As I explained to you in my previous letter, this was the exact same amount that you requested in your Executive Budget Request for FY17.
4. Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS): You claim that DPHSS was cut by $2.6 million, of which $2 million is from the Medically Indigent Program (MIP) and $600,000 is from the Medicaid local match program.
Fact: For MIP, the amount of $15.8 million appropriated in Section 2(a) and $1 million in Section 2(b), Part II, Chapter III of SB250 was more than what was requested in the DPHSS detailed budget requests as certified by BBMR. It was only after the DPHSS Budget Hearing that its Director provided a correction to the BBMR’s certified DPHSS detailed budget request, wherein $15.8 million was requested for MIP.
For Medicaid, $14.3 million was requested by you and appropriated by the Guam Legislature in Section 3, Part II, Chapter III of SB250.
In FYs 2014 and 2015, you transferred a total of over $3 million from both DPHSS and GBHWC to other agencies. If you continue to believe that there are any shortfalls in DPHSS or GBHWC, it would be prudent for you to discontinue your practice of taking funds from these agencies and actually provide them every single cent the Guam Legislature had appropriated.
Guam Department of Education (GDOE): You claim that $11.5 million was cut from the GDOE that would have helped pay for personnel, utilities, and operating expenses as well as $2 million for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program.
Fact: The total GDOE appropriation was increased by over $3 million compared to FY16. What concerns me are how highly disingenuous your actions are regarding our three (3) education agencies this fiscal year. You continue to withhold nearly $10 million from the GDOE, $20 million from the University of Guam, and $10 million from the Guam Community College. You claim that we shortchanged education on spending authority, but you won’t release cash for the spending authority they already have.
Instead of the division, scare tactics, and temper-tantrums to which the Administration now seems accustomed, I hope that with the enactment of SB250 you can truly prioritize Education, Health, and Public Safety in a manner commensurate with the tone of your recent message.
Si Yu’os ma’åse’,
Benjamin J.F. Cruz