Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Fri04252014

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Back Opinion Changing Guam Listening, acting, making tough decisions

Listening, acting, making tough decisions

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Improving the government won’t stop at reducing the workforce and making pay cuts. You’ve demanded a higher quality of service for decades. This is part of our mission.

FROM the day we stepped into office back in January, we faced challenges with tough decisions. We came into a government that was structurally imbalanced for years. Soaring deficit from unbalanced budgets, overdue tax refunds accruing interest, COLA lawsuits and federal orders, to name just a few of the problems threatening the solvency of your government – the delivery of services you and your families rely on every single day.

We knew what was ahead of us back then and we haven’t backed down.  We’re moving ahead with a vision to straighten the government’s decades-old financial problems. We made a commitment to streamline operations, reduce government expenditures and do more with less. 

Why? Because you pay for a government that should be providing an education second to none for your children; a hospital that treats your needs; a community that is safe; an island that cares for people who fall on bad times.

This week we started an unprecedented reduction in force. The Department of Administration human resources office is moving on a process that’s been around for decades, but has never been used. It’s not a task we want to do, but if government had just been more responsible in the last two decades, we wouldn’t have to do what we’re doing today. In addition to the reduction in force, we’ve halted all non-essential hiring, salary increments, and pay raises for Executive branch employees.

How many times over the last decade have you spoken up and asked why is government hiring so many? Why does government need more of my money? Why can’t government use technology and do things better?  Why can’t government just live within its means? How many editorials with good suggestions about outsourcing and downsizing have splashed across this page?

I haven’t been governor for 20 years, but I am now. I’m listening and I’m acting.

Improving the government won’t stop at reducing the workforce and making pay cuts. You’ve demanded a higher quality of service for decades. This is part of our mission. This means schools that teach your kids how to be self-sustaining citizens, public safety officials who keep you safe, online services so you don’t have to line up at a government agency, and the list goes on and on.

But, we can’t get to that point without rightsizing government.

My fellow Guamanians, these decisions are painful and they are unpopular.  More painful is receiving news that emergency medical services were unable to save the life of a newborn.  More painful is knowing that at any given moment, only two or three ambulances are available to serve our 19 villages.

These are the challenges we face day in and day out. Our vision is for government to never have to choose between paying employees and buying medical supplies for the hospital. We are today’s leaders charged with the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that our future leaders – our children – will never have to know the difficulty of balancing debt and delaying private vendor payments one week to keep the lights on in classrooms for next week.

Many, especially those we serve with in the public sector, will be affected by the changes we need to make. While we can point fingers and lay blame elsewhere for the severity of today’s problems, this will not change the fact that there’s a lot of work ahead, much of which will be unimaginably difficult.

Our vision for Guam requires a comprehensive long-term strategy that involves more than just redefining government operations and services.  We want government to serve the people to the best of its ability. We want the people to be proud of being a part of a community with a strong government with the highest standard of service.

The administration already is taking aggressive measures to improve the government on many fronts. Yes, our long-term goals will require extreme short-term sacrifices. But I have no doubt that our vision, the things we all want for our families and future generations, are not out of our reach.

We understand where we have come from, we understand what we must do, and I know that the people of Guam can pull together to do anything.

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