The legislature is a lawmaking body and one of the duties of this body is to appropriate, by law, the budget of the government of Guam. Also inherent in this responsibility is our duty to bring light upon every facet of theseappropriations; to fully expose and demand for justification upon those matters that we may deem to be questionable.
For the recent budget and bond legislation, we did exactly that: review, question, debate and negotiate, and then decide.
Each senator actively participated in closely scrutinizing or advocating the various provisions of the bond bill based on the merits in the language.
These processes worked well for us thus far.
We came to a compromise to keep the 90% cap on the debt ceiling. We agreed on an interest rate we can afford; we successfully negotiated for the protection of our retirees’ interest; we assured a repayment structure for income tax returns and successfully negotiated the inclusion of Chamorro land trust commercial leases.
Granted, the process was lengthy and emotionally charged. But above all this, we had informed discussions that led to decisions supported by fact, reliable, and valid data.
Whether we were in session or out in the public, it may be said that each member of the legislature maintained an amicable and professional working relationship. This is because we subscribe to the notion ofworking in the best interest of the People through the spirit of Inafamaolek. And this, my dear people, is the point: we continually worked in the best of the People of Guam through the spirit of Inafamaolek.
As a legislative body we deliberate, debate, and collectively decide on what is best. Although one senator may vote in a manner that is different from that of the majority, we move forward and acknowledge that the decision made was done in the best interest on behalf of the People of Guam.
As a legislative body, we work through our ideological differences in an attempt to provide the People of Guam with clear cut options that preserve our community’s best interests.
And I encourage you, either as working professionals or as a member of the same island family, to set aside your biases when a decision is made in order to move forward. Let us all rise above our partisan politics. There is no need to send out press release after press release assigning credit or blame to those who side with you or differ with you. To differ is part of the great debate that made our society a model for democracy.
There is no need to utilize the media to further divide our people… where lines are being drawn between Democrats and Republicans.
Now it is time to rise above the politics and for us to move forward as a people.
Using the UOG Tuition Increase as a platform to lead by example, it is important to know that the issue of a looming tuition increase was made known to most, if not all, members of the Guam Legislature. The University of Guam published a paper that clearly states the tuition increase as being one of the options being considered by the Board of Regents to offset the budget shortfall.
While no single senator deserves the credit for coming to the aid of the students at UOG, I commendSenator Aline Yamashita for staying on top of the issue and working closelywith the administration on the matter. I also give tremendous credit to former Speaker Ben Pangelinan, for identifying a funding source and in working with me on the final legislation that was eventually passed.
You see, it was a bi-partisan effort that helped to pass legislation to avert a tuition increase at the University of Guam. And yes, the initiative required the support of the governor in order for it to pass into law and for the necessary cash to eventually be transferred to UOG. Kudos are also in order to Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta for working closely with the Calvo administration on the permissions necessary to breathe life into the bill introduced by Sen. Pangelinan and myself.
Thank you Governor Calvo, Senator Yamashita, and former Speaker Ben Pangelinan for your diligent efforts in rising to the call of our young adults; specifically, Jesse Quenga, UOG Student Government Association President, Jodi Catahay, Vice President SGA and members of SGA, and to Ken Kuper, Founder and President of the UOG student organization, Fellows for Inquiry Toward Enlightenment. These students advocated against a tuition increase in order that their constituents may continue to attend UOG at thecurrent rate. These student leaders worked to lobby lawmakers to identify and act on a solution that would avert a rise in tuition.
As individuals living in the same community we came together, initially through separate routes but ultimately at a common destination for the benefit of our students at UOG. Biba UOG. Biba Guahan!