WHEN session resumes at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Democratic senators will make another attempt to override Substitute Bill 145. By that time, Democratic Senators Dennis Rodriguez Jr. and Tom Ada will be on-island.
“The ball is in the court of the governor and our colleagues who did not support the (first) override. I remain hopeful that the Legislature will work collectively to avoid a government shutdown,” said Sen. Rory Respicio, head of the rules committee.
Last Friday, at the call of Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, the Legislature convened a special session to address the governor’s new budget Bill 1(1-S), which included the $343 million bond-borrowing proposal.
Senators moved the bill to the voting file, where it was voted down 7 to 6, with two excused absences. Voting yes were Senators Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Chris Duenas, Sam Mabini, Mana Silva Taijeron and Aline Yamashita.
Voting no were Speaker Judi Won Pat, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, and Senators Judi Guthertz, Tina Muña-Barnes, Adolpho Palacios Sr., Ben Pangelinan and Respicio. Excused from session were Senators Tom Ada and Dennis Rodriguez Jr.
After the Legislature adjourned from special session, senators resumed regular session. Pangelinan, the appropriations chairman, made a motion to address the override of the governor’s veto of Substitute Bill No. 145, the Government of Guam Budget Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
He referenced the Office of the Attorney General’s response to Respicio regarding the possible government shutdown.
Respicio, along with Senators Guthertz and Palacios, rose in support of Pangelinan’s motion to override and sought the support of their colleagues. Pangelinan reminded his colleagues that the governor’s plan involves laying off hundreds of government employees.
“What greater layoff is there than a government shutdown?” Pangelinan questioned.
Pangelinan, Respicio, Guthertz and Palacios reminded their colleagues that Substitute Bill 145 provides a mechanism to pay past-due refunds and thereafter, to remain current, while not having to implement massive layoffs of government workers.
When the vote was called, however, the override was unsuccessful with only seven voting in support (Won Pat, Cruz, Guthertz, Barnes, Palacios, Pangelinan and Respicio), six voting against it (Tony Ada, Blas, Duenas, Mabini, Silva Taijeron and Yamashita) and Senators Tom Ada and Rodriguez being excused from session.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco of the Attorney general’s Office last week issued a response to Sen. Respicio’s inquiry, stating that if the Budget Act of 2012 has been vetoed by the governor and an override attempt by the Legislature is unsuccessful at the end of the fiscal year, the rollover of last year’s budget does not apply and this could lead to a government shutdown.
The response states that “most of the government of Guam agencies would have no legal appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012. Further, the government of Guam, other than certain autonomous government agencies or public corporations and the Department of Education, will soon if not immediately thereafter be confronted with a shutdown of their operation and services.”
Respicio said he hopes the governor understood the AGO’s clarification, since Gov. Calvo and his team have repeatedly claimed that a rollover budget would take effect and there would be no shutdown in government services.
In response, the governor told senators that every hour that goes by is another hour closer to a government shutdown.
Some Democrat senators have called for the governor to compromise on the budget. “He did compromise. He kept most of their amendments in his new budget submission,” according to Press Secretary Troy Torres.
"I don't mind compromising on revenues and appropriations, as long as the compromise is reasonable," Gov. Calvo said. "What I cannot compromise is money that does not belong to me or to the senators. We cannot compromise on tax refunds."
If the Legislature is unable to revise or enact a vetoed bill via legislative override, the government shuts down until the two branches work out a compromise, said Respicio.