Only critical agencies will be spared
THE Spending Cuts Task Force met for the first time yesterday to identify the critically-needed services of various government of Guam agencies, which will in turn help to determine where reductions can be made to produce the $43 million in cuts Gov. Eddie Calvo said will be permanently removed from the General Fund.
Heading the meeting was acting Gov. Ray Tenorio. He and various representatives from different agencies collectively brainstormed and came up with a preliminary list of core services in the government.
These core services, Communications Director Troy Torres said, will tell the administration “where to stay away from” in the cutting process.
“If you’re not on this list, we’re going to look and we’re going to take a deep look,” Torres said.
“We must start making decisions on what we’re going to do differently. If we continue to do what the government has always done, essentially you’re going to find yourself in the same situation one year after the next. Gov. Calvo and I did not get into this government to continue to drive and manage an insufficient and inadequate government,” Tenorio said.
Calling for $43 million in necessary cuts, Calvo issued Directive No. 2012-01 on Wednesday, saying the government has not cut spending enough to live within its means.
With the announcement of $43 million in cuts also came an announcement of necessary layoffs within the various departments.
While Calvo’s directive did not specifically identify the number of displaced workers that may be affected, members of the task force proposed creating special programs with tiered tuition rates for the “special population” of groups of 50 to 100 laid off employees at a time.
During the meeting, the group identified several critically-needed services, including rescue services; police patrol; investigative units; fire prevention and suppression; ambulatory services; and incarceration of convicted felons under public safety.
Under Public Health services, the task force identified the Medically Indigent Program; immunization; environmental health; vitals and statistics; communicable disease control; inspection; allied health services; community health clinics; and the local match for federal programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Under Mental Health services, the group identified child adolescent programs; the Healing Hearts Center; the adult in-patient unit at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse; and the drug and alcohol program, or New Beginnings.
For Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities, vocational rehabilitation and respite care were identified, among others.
The task force then began to identify areas that may not be core or critically-needed services, such as salaries, benefits, incentive pay, COLA payouts to non-residents, military leave sharing, lump sum payouts, and travel.
Tenorio stated that as the government begins to lay off employees, other organizations must step in to rehabilitate and assimilate the displaced workers back into the private sector. This, he said, is where educational institutions, such as the Guam Community College and Guam Trades Academy, must be involved.
The next Spending Cuts Task Force meeting will be held in early May, Torres said.