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FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (July 17, 2014 – Hagåtña, GU) – The Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Legal Affairs, Retirement, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation, and Land held budget hearings on June 13th with the University of Guam and the Guam Community College.

The Committee has recessed and will resume budget hearings next Friday, July  25, 2014 with the Guam Department of Education at 9:30 am and the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority at 2:00pm to discuss their Fiscal Year 2015 budget requests. (Please note that the Guam Department of Education budget hearing previously scheduled for Thursday, July 24, 2014 has been rescheduled to Friday, July 25, 2014)

The hearings will take place at the Public Hearing Room at I Liheslaturan Guåhan.

For more information, please call Artemio “Ricky” Hernandez at 473-4236/7 or reply via email at ahernandez@guamlegislature.org

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’

If you require any special accommodations, auxiliary aids or other special services or for further information, please call the Office of Senator Vicente (ben) Cabrera Pangelinan at 473-4236/7. Testimonies may be submitted directly to our office at 324 West Soledad Avenue in Hagåtña or at the Mail Room of the Guam Legislature, via fax at 473-4238, or via email at office@senbenp.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (July 9, 2014 – Hagåtña) – Beginning this evening at 6:30 pm, July 9 to July 17, 2014 rosaries for the late Senator Vicente (ben) Cabrera Pangelinan will be held at the St. Francis of Asissi Catholic Church in Yoña. The funeral date is scheduled for Friday, July 18, 2014 at St. Francis Church, Yoña. Further details regarding the funeral, and the state funeral will be released as soon as more information is available.

For further information, please contact the Offices of Senator Pangelinan at 473-4236 or email at office@senbenp.com

 

For Immediate Release, July 8, 2014 – The island of Guam suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Speaker Vicente “ben” C. Pangelinan (D) this morning. Speaker Pangelinan served the island with passion and integrity as a senator for 20 years.                                                                             

“Speaker Pangelinan was a true leader and genuine statesman, who worked hard for the people of Guam,” said Speaker Judith T. Won Pat. “He was a dear friend and mentor and I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. I send my sincerest condolences to his family. ”                                                                                      

Speaker Pangelinan’s office wishes to extend their appreciation for all the prayers and support that have been offered for Speaker Pangelinan. Further information will be released at a later time.

 

The financial misdirection: Fiscal ‘13 $28M single-year deficit

I HAVE continued to push for financial transparency and accountability in our government given the relentless issuance of press releases coming from the executive branch about their claimed financial prowess and GovGuam’s supposed continued financial successes. The GovGuam audited financial statements for fiscal 2013 were released this past Tuesday and the results are far from the governor’s statements during his State of the Island Address of a surplus.

GovGuam posted a $28 million single-year general fund deficit in fiscal year 2013. This is a $28 million single-year deficit even when GovGuam collected its highest revenues in GovGuam history. This is even before the implementation of the Hay Study pay raises, the law enforcement retroactive payments executed in fiscal year 2014, and ballooning debt service payments.

According the Office of Public Accountability’s highlights, the draft general fund financial statements were provided on June 21 for a financial statement period that ended on Sept. 30, 2013. The OPA cited this was the most delayed submission of financial data in more than 12 years. The OPA also stated there is a lack of regular financial information as a result of a breakdown in the financial management systems of the government.

The governor’s continued touting of GovGuam’s financial successes has succumbed to the harsh reality that our government finances are vulnerable, and action must be taken to ensure that tax refunds, debt service payments and operations can continue to be covered. Why would the governor continue to grandstand about GovGuam’s finances being better, when in fact, an audited financial statement for a period that ended over nine months ago on Sept. 30, 2013 shows a different story?

Is it an election year stunt? Maybe. How else would any governor be able to justify:
*The signing of a nonexclusive health insurance contract rather than an exclusive health insurance contract that would have saved taxpayers and GovGuam employees and retirees about $18 million this fiscal year;
*Payment of Hay Study pay increases for GovGuam employees totaling $15 million to $20 million;
*Retroactive payment of law enforcement pay increases totaling $20 million;
*Merit bonus payments back to 1991, which cost millions of dollars when the statute of limitations only requires payment back four years totaling almost $10 million;
*Authorizing tax credits totaling $256 million to Core Tech International Corp. for 50-year-old military barracks;
*Authorizing millions of dollars in tax credits to former Layon landowners using an over 30-year-old law that has never been used before;
*Spending taxpayer funds on a private law firm to appeal the tax refund permanent injunction so he does not have to pay tax refunds within six months of filing; and many other costs?
Continue reading »

 

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 29, 2014 – Hagåtña, GU) – Senator Vicente “ben” C. Pangelinan (D) issues the following statement:

“For 20 years, I have had the honor of serving the public with the love and support of my family and the willingness and courage to do what is in the best interest of the people of Guam. This year, I have put great thought into and consideration for my family and giving them that same love and support they have given me these past years when thinking about my decision for the future.

In wanting to ensure I spend the remaining good years of my life with my family—enjoying them, living with them, serving them, and giving them the same commitment that I have given to the people of Guam these past decades—I have decided that I will be retiring from the Guam Legislature at the end of this term.

I want to extend my and my family’s eternal gratitude to the people of Guam for all the love, support, and encouragement that they have afforded me over the past two decades, and I look forward to the remaining six months of this term to continue the work of the Office of the People.

Para hita todos u fanma’åse’ todos i saina-ta.”

For further information, please contact the Offices of Senator Pangelinan at 473-4236 or email at office@senbenp.com

 

Can we afford it all?

OVER the past few years, GovGuam has steadily increased its expenditure base on personnel and other operational costs such as office space rent and utilities. In addition to these increases in the operation of GovGuam agencies, include the increase in debt service payments for the increased borrowing that has also occurred.

The rise in GovGuam expenditures also come at a time when federal District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall ordered a permanent injunction for the timely payment of tax refunds within six months of the filing deadline. In addition to these expenditures of GovGuam revenues, also include the effects that unplanned tax credits have on the money GovGuam should receive.

On Dec. 30, 2013, the governor signed a Purchase Agreement and Exercise of Option Under the Lease with Core Tech International Corp. and subsequently signed an amended to such agreement on Jan. 16, which included new construction that was to commence on July 1 if the governor does not exercise GovGuam’s right to terminate such new construction.

The new construction included a Guam Department of Education Central Office Facility inclusive of a warehouse and mezzanines for such warehouses for a purchase price of $26.5 million with an interest rate of 7.193 percent over a 25-year period. Interest costs would amount to over $30 million and “insurance and maintenance” costs over the same period would be over $20.5 million for a total cost of over $77 million.

Continue reading »

 

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (May 24, 2014 – Hagåtña, GU) – The Office of Senator Vicente “ben” C. Pangelinan issues the following statement:

Senator Pangelinan would like to thank the community for their overwhelming support and concerns expressed these past few days regarding his health. He confirms that he is currently at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) taking care of some medical issues.

GMH ICU protocol restricts visitors to immediate family in order to prevent risk to the patient. The Pangelinan family is hopeful for a quick recovery.

Any other questions regarding Senator Pangelinan’s health or any other issues will be addressed at a later date.

For further information, please contact the Offices of Senator Pangelinan at 473-4236 or email at office@senbenp.com

 

 FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 18, 2014 – Hagåtña, GU) – Senator Vicente “ben” C. Pangelinan (D), Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Retirement, Legal Affairs, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation, and Land (Committee) reacts to the Supreme Court Declaratory Judgment opinion filed by the Guam Legislature relative to the Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund.

“This is a landmark declaratory judgment opinion, the first in over a decade and will once and for all prevent this governor and all future governors from taking from the people’s tax refund trust fund that I had envisioned and created to protect the people from financial misuse,” declared Pangelinan.

The Supreme Court has affirmed the Legislature’s appropriations power and authority to mandate that income tax receipts be set aside to pay tax refunds and restricted from the governor’s transfer or expenditure.

For years, Pangelinan passed laws, passed budgets, and amended those laws and budgets to try to force governors to set aside income tax receipts every month in order to pay tax refunds.

“Governors ignored the law or found loopholes, believing their expenditures were more of a priority than prompt payment of tax refunds. With this decision, there will be prompt and monthly payments of tax refunds, and the people of Guam deserve no less,” explained Pangelinan.

“The governor needs to explain himself for using the people’s tax refund money in the amount of almost $50 million for government operations over the past three-and-a-half years, which represents almost 19,000 taxpayers who are still waiting—even up to today—for their tax refund payments. These types of actions may lead to deficit spending in FY 2013,” warned Pangelinan.

Pangelinan suggests that all taxpayers take time to review this opinion from the third and co-equal branch of government, for it is an opinion that stands by the people and for the people. “The truth about tax refunds has become increasingly clear with this opinion from the Supreme Court of Guam as well as the permanent injunction against the governor in the federal District Court of Guam.”

“When the legislature asserts its role as a co-equal branch with the power of appropriations and takes seriously its duty to check and balance the spending power of the executive branch, the people of Guam win,” concluded Pangelinan.

For further information, please contact the Offices of Senator Pangelinan at 473-4236 or email atoffice@senbenp.com.

 

Enough already: Stop the appeal

A COUPLE of weeks ago, federal District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall issued her latest order, ruling on the filings by the governor and his attorneys’ attempts to overturn the decision on the taxpayer lawsuit that has resulted in the timely payments of the people of Guam’s income tax refunds.

In this order, Judge Marshall summarized the governor’s appeal and position as, “the entire case is about the government of Guam’s unwillingness to timely pay its obligations. The government of Guam has also raised baseless arguments in its present attempts to avoid paying.”

Based on these statements, it is clear that Judge Marshall is not sold on all of the public statements and press releases by the governor and his administration that he is already paying the tax refunds, and he will continue to do so without the District Court order and the tax refund permanent injunction. The District Court is not persuaded that the governor’s assurances to pay timely are enough without the order.

With further reading of Judge Marshall’s order, it is clear that she does not believe the governor, or his director of the Department of Administration, that GovGuam will pay its obligations in a timely manner. This was apparent in the order where even a declaration from the governor’s director of administration – wherein she states that GovGuam guarantees full payment of the $1.7 million owed to the taxpayers’ attorneys plus interest within 30 days of the issuance of a final judgment by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – was not enough for Judge Marshall. The court order stated, “The court is not persuaded that the government of Guam will timely pay…” She still required that GovGuam post a surety bond to ensure the payment of these costs.

Continue reading »

 

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 11, 2014 – Hagåtña, GU) – Senator Vicente “ben” C. Pangelinan (D), Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Retirement, Legal Affairs, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation, and Land (Committee) is commending the Office of Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, for her work in confirming from federal officials, the expected windfall Section 30 Funds that GovGuam should expect to receive within the coming fiscal year.

“We are appreciative of the Congresswoman’s work in upholding transparency in the Section 30 process through working with federal officials to provide the truth,” stated Pangelinan.

Pangelinan previously announced that as a result of two federal entities that have not been remitting Section 30 funds to GovGuam for almost two decades, GovGuam should expect to receive these funds after the federal government performs its analysis and reconciliation of what is to be owed, which local officials have estimated to be over $20 million. Pangelinan notes that one of the federal entities should be notifying the Department of the Interior in the coming weeks of the specific amount to be remitted to GovGuam, whereas the other federal entity is continuing to reconcile the amount due to GovGuam.

“We are not saying that there is a certification from the U.S. Treasury that funds is available because that goes directly to the Executive Branch. The governor should already know that process. We are also not saying that the funds are in the bank today. What we are saying is that there are active discussions and reconciliations occurring and that there is an expected windfall of Section 30 funds,” explained Pangelinan.

Pangelinan along with Vice Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz, introduced Bill 309 which sets funding priorities if such windfall Section 30 Funds are remitted to GovGuam.

“Bill 309, as substituted, funds certain priorities such as the full implementation of the Competitive Wage Act of 2014, education needs, 20 new police officers, additional prosecution teams and victim witness advocates at the AG’s office, and law enforcement retroactive pay. If these windfall Section 30 funds do not come in this fiscal year, then the appropriations will not be in effect. That is why I urge the governor to do all that he can to ensure that GovGuam receives these windfall Section 30 funds to fund these priorities,” concluded Pangelinan.

For further information, please contact the Offices of Senator Pangelinan at 473-4236 or email at office@senbenp.com