"We don't have to waste money to make money"

By Jason M. Goldman-Hall
Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — In a show of bipartisan cooperation in the Legislature Wednesday, senators tore through a series of miscellaneous provisions to Bill 92 — the GovGuam budget — in attempts to fix various problems and oversights in the government.

Streamlined operations and reduced government spending were some of the major focal points of the proceedings, including efforts to promote volunteerism and cap government salaries.

In response to unclear or potentially illegal lobbying deals — including the recent GTA dealings with the Washington Pacific Economic Group, the new section was adopted unopposed during afternoon hearings.

“I think we don’t have to waste money to make money,” Sen. Jesse Anderson Lujan, R-Tamuning, said.

The new section, proposed by Lujan — who through the proceedings referred to the WPEG as a “do-nothing group” — states that “No government of public funds of any nature shall be expended in support of a lobbyist, unless specifically authorized by law. This section shall apply to all line agencies, all autonomous agencies or public corporations specifically established by Guam law. Nor shall any government officer or employee accept the services of a lobbyist on a volunteer basis.”

“It seems that this is timely and appropriate legislation that would advance the remedy for this problem and retard the mischief,” Sen. Robert Klitzkie, R-Yigo, said.

Speaker Vicente C. Pangelinan, D-Barrigada and the most vocal against the GTA deal, supported the amendment, and recognized that this will prevent the lobbying of outside firms if it is not done legally.

“If we’re going to be paying prime money, for prime companies, then we want to be able to see it,” Lujan said. “We want it to be out in the open and candid. I want to make sure we get our money’s worth.”

In an effort to streamline government costs, Sen. Carmen Fernandez, D-Yona, added two sections to Guam law to allow the executive branch of GovGuam to look for volunteer help to provide education for individuals or fill gaps in service left by disasters or lack of funding.

Sen. Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana, echoing the past of volunteer work on Guam, including public services like firefighting, spoke to the benefits of volunteer work for Guam’s economy and its people.

“If we ignite the flames that are already burning in the hearts of our people to do good things, then on one level, it will be good for the process here, because any volunteerism helps reduce costs,” Forbes said. “But on a great level, this will help build the kind of democracy we want to see on Guam.”



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