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NEWS: Governor uses money for at-risk kids to fund Yona election

By Johnnie Rosario

(Tumon, Guam) The governor provided the $28,000 to fund the special election for Yona mayor by taking that money from the already-underfunded account for children needing medical and psychological treatment.

In a February 17, 2020 statutory notice to Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero informed Ms. Muna Barnes that she had transferred the money from the Support of Child in Custody account within the Department of Administration to the Guam Election Commission, "To cover costs to conduct the special election for the Office of the Yona Mayor."

The special election will be conducted on Saturday, March 28, 2020, for the voters of Yona to determine who will succeed former Mayor Jesse Blas, who faces corruption charges in federal court and is in jail pending trial. GEC officials told Kandit News the cost will be $27,800.

According to DOA director Ed Birn, the Support of Child in Custody fund, which is funded in Section V(c)3 of the budget act, "makes the General Fund responsible for paying court orders for medical, psychological etc. costs incurred by children pursuant to court orders if there is no or partial parental contribution.  In the past, we have had court ordered payments and no or insufficient appropriation to fund court orders."

The funding, according to the act, "is for the sole purpose of paying orders of the court pursuant to §5116, Chapter 5, Title 19 GCA.” That statutory reference is to the Family Court Act; the funding is for the needs of at-risk children and wards of the court who need some form of medical treatment.

Earlier in the month, Sen. Joe San Agustin introduced Bill No. 268-35, which would appropriate the $28,000 needed for the special election from the Fiscal Year 2019 surplus. That bill, according to the status report on the Legislature's website, has yet to be referred to a committee.

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