By Nancy I. Maanao
Sen. Jim Moylan sent a letter to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero asking her where the administration is with the payment of $800 per qualified Guam taxpayer, as authorized by the Guam Legislature late last year.
The authorization was made through Public Law 35-136, a bill by then-Sen. Regine Lee that was supported by the administration.
Read Mr. Moylan's letter to the governor below:
Dear Governor Leon Guerrero;
On December 29, 2020 you allowed Substitute Bill 340-35 lapse into Public Law 35-136, hence enacting the “Recovery Income Support and Empowerment Act of 2020” (RISE ACT OF 2020). The measure’s primary objective was to provide $800 in financial support for qualified residents of Guam. While the legislation provided alternatives as the funding source, it was evident during the discussions on the bill that federal funds would be the only available option on the table.
In less than a week it will be two months since the enactment of PL 35-136, thus our office would like to follow up on the present status of the plan. We have been receiving inquiries from constituents on when they can anticipate their RISE ACT checks, and I believe as a means of transparency, there needs to be some updates on the program. With thousands of island residents still waiting to get back to work, and with the federalPandemic Unemployment Assistance program expiring shortly, this $800 could help many families purchase groceries or pay bills.
While I recognize that in your message back in December, you did indicate that the government is facing financial constraints, however instead of vetoing Bill 340-35, you allowed it to lapse into law. Thus, the intent of implementing the program was certainly expressed, even if it would be at some point in the future. Whatever the plans are with the RISE ACT, I believe the constituency deserves some answers as well as forthrightness, even if the program’s fate is that of an unfunded mandate.
I also understand that provisions in PL 35-136 clearly state that the Department of Revenue and Taxationwould have 30 working days from when you identify funds to implement the program. What also concerns me is that RISE ACT also stipulates that no checks shall be issued afterDecember 31, 2021. May we ask what are the timelines for these funds to be identified? What efforts or plans are being considered?
Without one, December 31, 2021 may come and go, thus the objectives of this measure will not be fulfilled.
As a Senator who voted for the passage of the RISE ACT, also one who co-sponsored the amendment to increase the benefit payout, I do hope that some responses to this inquiry can be provided so we can share with our constituency. Likewise, what is even more critical is assuring that qualified residents attain the added support to address the pressing needs for their families. Thank you very much, and as always, I am open to a discussion on this and other issues. Respectfully;
James "Jim" Moylan