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Back Local News Mixed views on school tax credit bill

Mixed views on school tax credit bill

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TESTIMONY was heard yesterday on Bill 437, a measure that would authorize tax credits to contractors who rehabilitate and renovate public schools. Presiding over the meeting was Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, chairman of the Economic Reform Committee.

Co-sponsored by Sens. Judi Guthertz, Aline Yamashita and Rory Respicio, the bill would authorize the use of approximately $60 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for public schools in dire need of repair or renovation.

Karl Pangelinan, administrator of the Guam Economic Development Authority, expressed his support for the bill but also pointed out that tax credits alone cannot help with the rehabilitation of public schools.

GEDA has offered the use of other options, including the business privilege tax.

For his part, Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco cautioned senators about the intent of the bill and the risks it entails.

“This model is the model that is similar to the JFK situation. I can see naturally that this would be JFK times how many schools you want to have repaired and financed this way. There are no assurances built into this so we are putting you on notice about that. You make those policy decisions about those risks and benefits,” Tydingco said, adding legal problems may arise.

Guthertz welcomed Tydingco's testimony, citing a letter she sent to the Attorney General’s Office a few weeks ago asking for support with regards to JFK.

“My goal was to facilitate a resolution of issues,” Guthertz said, adding work is already being done to resolve the problems at the Upper Tumon high school.

Guthertz said she’s comfortable with the intent of the bill, but said she will work with Rodriguez to look at the other options available as well as the safeguards that were discussed.

“I know we can’t do it as a legislative body on our own. We have to work very closely with the Executive branch, the governor, the school board, the superintendent, the superintendent’s team, Department of Public Works, and the Attorney General’s Office. But we can do it if we’re all committed to really helping our schools as soon as we can,” Guthertz said.

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