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Budget bill under review

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AFTER emerging from an almost two-hour caucus, Sen. Ben Pangelinan, the appropriations committee chairman, presented a proposed substitute budget bill upon reconvening the Committee of the Whole, which identified a solution to Guam Memorial Hospital's financial woes.

The lawmakers yesterday were supposed to resume the special session at 2 p.m. The special session was convened by Gov. Eddie Calvo on Labor Day so lawmakers could debate his new budget proposal, Bill 1 (4-S).

Pangelinan said the proposed substitute bill will contain almost everything which had been previously discussed in the different iterations of the budget bill that has come before the Legislature.

“The additional iteration that you would find in the proposed substitute bill is, of course, a provision that would seek to provide some financial relief to Guam Memorial Hospital in addition to the other provisions that have been previously passed by this body,” Pangelinan said.

Sen. Rory J. Respicio, the rules committee chairman, said yesterday that lawmakers will be given time to review the substitute bill’s provisions before the resumption of session today.

On the introduction of the substituted and amended bill, Pangelinan said discussions, both formal and informal, have been conducted with his colleagues at the Legislature.

“We have a version of the bill that we have done for proposed substitution. We have not submitted that bill at this time but before we recess this afternoon, I want to announce that we will give each member a copy of that proposed bill so that each and every member will have an opportunity to look it over and come back with any concerns and issues before tomorrow’s session,” the senator said.

GMH

The amended and substituted version of Bill 1(4-S) includes a provision authorizing the governor to transfer $7.635 million from any general fund and special fund revenues, as well as unencumbered appropriations from certain sections of the fiscal 2014 appropriations act to the Guam Memorial Hospital for obligations incurred on or after Oct. 1, 2012, but no later than Sept. 30, 2013.

In addition, the measure stipulates that “any transfer of funds authorized in the said section shall be effective only through delivery of an Executive Order requiring the Bureau of Budget and Management Research to identify the amount of the appropriations transferred under the FY2014 appropriations act, by fund code and name, agency code and name, and by amount, to the Speaker and the Office of Finance and Budget.”

The substituted bill also reduced GMH general fund appropriations for FY2014 operational expenses to $2.894 million.

The measure appropriated $7.055 million for the Hay Study while the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) has been set at $1,800 per Government of Guam Retirement Fund retiree who has retired as of Sept. 30, 2013, or his survivor, no later than Nov. 1, 2013.

Guam Police Department appropriations were also reduced to $28.583 million compared to the $28.908 appropriated in the original version of Bill 1(4-S).

The amended substituted bill retained the $120 million allocation for the tax refunds as passed. Sen. Michael San Nicolas made the motion for an amendment to revert back to the Bill 177 allocation for tax refunds last Monday.

The measure also brought back the $1.125 million appropriation for merit bonus payments which was requested by the United Judiciary of Guam. The allocation for the Judiciary merit bonuses was taken out in the governor’s original version of Bill 1 (4-S).

The proposed amended and substituted budget Bill 1(4-S) – the seventh version introduced so far - will be tackled today at 9 a.m.

 

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