Merits of Guam State Clearing House center of great debate

by Sabrina Salas, KUAM News
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Lawmakers were back in session this morning to continue discussions on the budget bill, or Bill 92. For most of the day, a $475,000 appropriation to the “Guam State Clearing House” took up much of the debate, discussing whether the money is really worth the investment.

Contained in Bill 92 is a provision that would appropriate close to a half-million dollars to what's called the Guam State Clearing House. The main mission of the agency to search and track federal grants. Already, we've seen the fruits of their labor as the State Clearing House has found federal grant money for the Guam Memorial Hospital, the Department of Public Works and is currently waiting word on whether GHURA will receive much-needed federal monies.

But senators on the floor today weren't so sure whether they are sold on appropriating the $475,000. Democrat Senator Randy Cunliffe expressed his concerns and asked his colleagues for their support in passing his amendment that would reduce the appropriation to $100,000. Senator Cunliffe questioned why the need to hire more people for the State Clearing House, when there are government employees who already performed similar functions that could be moved into that office.

According to the staffing pattern for the Guam State Clearing House as submitted to the Legislature by the Camacho Administration, whoever is hired as the executive general manager would be paid a salary plus benefits, totaling $84,000. An executive secretary would likewise be paid close to $41,000 with two grant management specialists earning more than $53,000 a piece. Two grants research assistants additionally would bring home a salary plus benefits totaling $50,000. Lastly, an inventory records officer would receive a salary of more than $44,000.

Out of the total appropriation of $475,000, $376,000 would go to personnel costs alone, with operation expenses at $98,000.

Republican Senator Bob Klitzkie was one of the few senators that agreed with Senator Cunliffe, as he didn't see the need to hire additional personnel. “I haven't been sold on this. I’m not going to spend $475,000...that’s a lot of money, Madam Chair,” he pronounced.

Despite the concerns of the two lawmakers, Cunliffe's amendment failed, and the appropriation stands as a one-time appropriation. Meanwhile, lawmakers late this afternoon would begin debate on the University of Guam and its request for additional funding to the tune of $500,000 more of what what's currently being budgeted.



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