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Guam Democrats, Republicans trade barbs over finances

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The governor's press conference on Monday regarding GovGuam fiscal year 2019 finances drew seething criticism from the island’s Republican Party.

Democratic "Gov. (Lou) Leon Guerrero needs a reality check," a GOP release stated, summing up statements about intentions to fill additional director and deputy director positions, higher starting salaries for her staff, and the governor's backpedaling of campaign promises to reduce taxes, among other statements.

The GOP said Leon Guerrero failed to report that the fiscal 2019 surplus was due to Democrats in the 34th Guam Legislature, "(allowed) the business privilege tax to remain at 5% 'forever,' and claimed that upon taking office, she realized the need to reward family, friends and supporters with jobs and contracts, creating a need to keep the [business privilege tax or] BPT increase."

The administration, however, stated that the GOP release followed the recent passage of the fiscal 2021 budget bill, which is funded in part by the 5% BPT, and which nearly all Republican lawmakers supported.

"As a woman, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero knows you don’t always get credit for cleaning up after others — you just hope they’d lend a helping hand," her administration responded.

 

The Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex in Adelup Guam is seen on Aug. 9, 2020. Photo by David R. Castro/ The Guam Daily Post

The GOP stated that the governor also failed to disclose that her fiscal team was part of the prior administration of former Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo, and keeping them on board "is a statement on its own."

"While the governor was touting this evident 'success' she feels she has accomplished, what she fails to recognize is that over 35,000 island residents have lost their jobs, and hundreds of businesses have been asked to close their doors. She wants to let them know that their government’s finances are in order, but she does not seem to care if their personal finances are in order, as she has done nothing with local funds to help our people," the GOP stated.

The administration stated that Calvo's party took a surplus and "turned it into a deficit." He then worked to raise the BPT to 5% because of the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed government revenues by $65 million, the governor's office added.

"Now, just months before an election, his GOP hopes you’ll blame Democrats for the stuff they did," the administration stated. "Under Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, qualified small businesses pay 3% BPT, not 5%. General Fund expenditures are down governmentwide, and gone are the days when people in power stole federally protected funds to make payroll."

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