I AUTHORED Public Law 30-164, which created the Education Financial Supervisory Commission (EFSC), a group consisting of the Directors of the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, Department of Administration, and Office of Finance and Budget, the Public Auditor, as well as the Superintendent of Education and the Deputy Superintendent of Finance as ex-officio, non-voting members.
The EFSC provides transparency and accountability for the financial condition of the Guam Department of Education with monthly meetings that result in status updates on the finances of GDOE with respect to its cash position and its expenditure tracking. If the more than $216 million the Guam Legislature appropriated to GDOE is reduced by $30 million by the governor as he plans, it is an understatement to say there will be issues that will arise.
Knowing and understanding the difficulties GDOE faces regarding receiving its appropriated funds and its need to educate our children are of utmost importance to me and the Legislature. That is why it is sad when some politicians say education is a top priority when their actions speak otherwise.
Action 1: The governor withheld over $4 million in cash from GDOE in FY2011. Although GDOE was able to stay afloat during that time, many vendors will be left unpaid until GDOE receives the funds it was appropriated by the Guam Legislature.
Action 2: The governor submitted a FY2012 budget to the Guam Legislature that decreased GDOE’s budget by more than $20 million from actual expenditures for FY2011. Meanwhile, he requested funding of more than $12 million in vacancies for executive departments at the same time. My Appropriations Committee caught this underfunding and undid this blatant attempt to grab GDOE funds and shortchange our children.
Action 3: BBMR, at the directive of the governor, implemented a $30 million reserve on GDOE, which caused the Superintendent to say this could shut down the Education Department completely by June of this year. I have pleaded with the governor to lift this reserve on GDOE, as well as the University of Guam and the Guam Community College. My requests have been stonewalled with silence and inaction.
Action 4: In September 2011, $525,000 was appropriated to George Washington High School as payment for air-conditioning equipment and maintenance and collateral equipment, and to Simon Sanchez High and Southern High Schools, and Agueda Johnston Middle School for collateral equipment. The governor continually withheld these funds without explanation or cause. The money was from a funding source the governor had publicly stated was a “real” funding source for appropriations he wanted. Months later, for our children and schools, he called the appropriation unfunded. Only my persistence finally resulted in the release of this money just a couple of weeks ago.
Action 5: The governor terminated the Tiyan lease back in June 2011, publicly announcing he was doing so because there was no money. Later, he changed the story and now says he actually meant no money to build a central high school. Behind the scenes, without any press releases and no media reports, the terminated lease was reinstated in September 2011. The behind-closed-doors deal between the Governor’s Office and Core Tech was signed in December 2011 and changed the original terms of the agreement to be financially one-sided for Core Tech. It will increase government expenditures and payment to a private company by over $5.5 million, while teachers’ increments are frozen, middle and high school appropriations are withheld, and a $30 million reserve is put on GDOE.
Benevente Middle in Dededo, Simon Sanchez High in Yigo, Inarajan Middle, etc. are all in bad condition, but Untalan Middle in Barrigada, close to the Tiyan facility, coincidentally and most conveniently was the chosen school to be moved.
And still, he has not identified money to repair Untalan or any other school for that matter, and committed close to $70 million in rent to Core Tech. How many schools could $70 million repair?
When will the statement that education is a top priority be true and above sweetheart deals and the withholding of education funds?
I will be introducing legislation proposing solutions to fix these education issues and will provide GDOE the necessary assistance in improving the quality of education for our students. I will certainly make education the number one priority. This will be a sweetheart deal for the students of Guam.