While the huge blow to government revenues by federal tax reform is a recent development, the fact is that the financial problems of the government of Guam have been clearly evident for years.
And neither the legislature nor the administration have taken steps to properly address these issues so far, when they have no other choice.
Guam Memorial Hospital has never been fully funded and has been forced to try to fend for itself for decades. It’s been roughly $ 30 million in the red every year for many years. No solution to this lack has been implemented. Current and previous senators and governors have ignored the hospital’s continuing financial problems.
Likewise, elected officials regularly bypassed the Guam Department of Education. He never gets the funding he needs to provide a proper education. School facilities are not maintained, repairs are not made, children lack textbooks and other resources.
Special funds were usually looted to support operations. For years, money from tax refunds has been misused for operational costs, leading to massive bond borrowing measures and the inability to pay refunds on a timely basis. The majority of the Guam Highway Fund is not used to repair roads, which is its purpose. At one point, child support money was wrongly used to cover a shortfall.
In fiscal 2014 and 2015, the government of Guam exceeded its budget by almost $ 120 million. For several years, the Guam Department of Education, the University of Guam and the Guam Community College did not receive all of their stipends.
Despite all these clear signs of financial problems, no significant action has been taken to reduce the size and cost of government. Even now, faced with a shortfall of $ 67 million this fiscal year, the main âsolutionsâ are tax hikes or new taxes.
Elected officials must recognize their repeated failures and work on permanent, longer-term solutions to reduce government spending in Guam.
This article originally appeared on Pacific Daily News: Our Take: GovGuam’s Financial Woes Are Not New, Unexpected