Power to the people and Guam governor’s future plans

In her third State of the Island Address on June 22, Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero offered help with the rising cost of living in Guam to a broader number of residents, promised an upcoming reduction in healthcare costs for Government of Guam employees, and more.

“First, our plan involves helping you meet the rising cost of living, starting with the power in your homes,” she said.

As the increase in fuel was not COVID related, federal law does not allow pandemic funds to combat a non-COVID related emergency. “But thankfully, because our government eliminated its General Fund deficit and spent less than it collected in each of the last three years, we have the local funds to give our people relief,” Leon Guerrero said. “Working with Senator Joe San Agustin and the Committee on Appropriations, we are proposing that every residential ratepayer on Guam receive a monthly credit of $100 to immediately offset the cost of power for each of the next five months.”

Leon Guerrero called on Speaker Therese M. Terlaje to send her a bill authorizing the power expenditures for her signature.

The governor also addressed GPA’s progress towards eventual “lower energy costs for everyone” through renewable energy.

Eligible households will receive an additional Prugraman Salappe’ payment – this time of $500.

As to some of the other measures yet to come – details have yet to emerge.

“I am working with the Guam Solid Waste Authority to fund free trash collection for every household struggling under the weight of the pandemic. Combined with a significant investment in capital equipment, these measures will serve as the foundation for free trash collection throughout the island. This $12 million investment is good for our people, good for our economy, and good for our environment,” the governor said.

“I support paid sick and family leave for everyone who works,” she said.

The governor also spoke of fiscal encouragement for businesses to offer those benefits, though the balance of benefits and expenses is not yet clear.

“If you are a business that shares our values — that believes your employees are vital assets worthy of investment — our government should incentivize that belief with breaks on business licensing and competitive procurement policies,” she said.

On other benefits, the governor said, “The first step toward a universal health care program for Guam will be lowering the cost of GovGuam Health Insurance — a program that covers 13,000 employees, retirees, and their families.”  Leon Guerrero said that there are cost cutting measures that will allow more people in the to have health insurance.  

“By covering the cost of care ourselves – and administering it privately with our existing insurers–we believe we can cut costs, cancel healthcare bureaucracies, and cover more people. Once this model is proven, it will be expanded to businesses, increasing coverage where none presently exists, she said.” Details will undoubtedly be sought by businesses and HMOs.

Other subjects the governor touched on included public safety and veteran health care.

 

Welcome back to the big ship

The USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Guam on Aug. 22, 2020, for a “safe haven” port visit.
Photo courtesy of Joint Region Marianas

The USS Ronald Reagan carrier is making its first visit to Guam in 2022 and is in port as of June 23 – in time for the weekend. The Ronald Reagan is deployed to Yokuska in Japan. Aside from R&R, crew members will participate in “community events.” The crew has “100% vaccination rates” according to Naval Base Guam.

In other U.S. military news, the public comment period for the programmatic agreement memo for the modification of the Area of Potential Effects for H-279 Military Family Housing located at Andersen Air Force Base has been extended to July 23. Due to a technical issue, the PA memo was not accessible online but is now. Find it at https://pacific.navfac.navy.mil/About-Us/Cultural-Resources-Information/Prog.

 

More flights from Japan

United Airlines confirmed June 22 that the Nagoya-Guam and Fukuoka-Guam nonstop services will relaunch in August.

United plans 17 weekly flights in July and 28 weekly flights in August from Japan, with the schedule as follows:

 

Nagoya (NGO) – Guam (GUM) Schedule Effective Aug. 1

DepartTimeArriveTimeDay of the Week
Guam7:30 a.m.Nagoya 10:15 a.m.Mon. / Fri.
Nagoya11:30 a.m.Guam4:10 p.m.Mon. / Fri.

 

Fukuoka (FUK) – Guam (GUM) Schedule Effective Aug. 4

DepartTimeArriveTimeDay of the Week
Guam7:05 a.m.Fukuoka10:10 a.m.Thurs. / Sun.
Fukuoka11:05 a.m.Guam4:05 p.m.Thurs. / Sun.

 

See www.mbjguam.com for previous coverage on flights from Japan.

 

Something for everybody

Sen. Telena C. Nelson introduced Bill 321-36 – or The Island Rejuvenation Assistance Act of 2022 to providing an income tax rebate to each Guam resident who filed an income tax return for the tax year ending Dec. 31, 2021. $56,000,000 will be appropriated from the general fund for the rebates to income taxpayers, and $250,000 will be appropriated for the purpose of administrative costs, according to a June 22 release.  “The April 2022 Consolidated Revenue and Expenditures Report reported an excess of approximately $87,600,000 in the General Fund for FY2022. This rebate will assist Guam’s taxpayers and help alleviate some of the financial hardships they face,” the release said.

A single, head of household, or married person filing separately will receive $700, and a married couple filing a joint return will receive $1,400. This would be the first locally administered Guam payment that does not have an income ceiling, but goes to all taxpayers.

           

For your diary:

The 2022 Fourth of July Liberation Day in Saipan will be celebrated from June 30 to July 4 at Garapan Fishing Base, “highlighted by food, live entertainment, a parade, fireworks, and other festivities,” according to the Marianas Visitors Authority. The Fishing Base will offer more than 20 food and drink vendors and live entertainment from 6:30 to 10 p.m. nightly. On July 4, grounds will open at 9 a.m. Vendor applications are still being accepted to [email protected].

The Liberation Day Parade will be held on July 4 at 10 a.m. on Beach Rd. from National Office Supply to Garapan Fishing Base. Applications for floats and marching groups are due by June 24 at 4 p.m. to [email protected] with cash prizes to be awarded. Road closures will be announced once finalized. mbj