An administration that touted fiscal responsibility is increasing directors’ salaries and sending officials on business/first-class trips.
Meanwhile, we have more crucial needs that could use government funding priorities. Classified employees are wondering why their annual salary increments remain frozen. The lack of school buses dictates our public school children’s school schedules instead of creating a schedule that promotes academic success. And we still don’t have enough police officers on the streets.
And if this wasn’t troubling enough, many of the senators in the 35th Legislature are virtually mum on what’s going on. There haven't been calls for accountability from the same legislative body that was vocal about the prior administration's spending habits. The current Democratic legislative majority has been timid – barely asking if all the publicly funded travel and officials' raises in the new administration are necessary. There has been a lack of legislative questions on whether that money and time are being spent on what the people of Guam really need.
While many island residents are concerned about the high cost of living on Guam and getting jobs or better-paying jobs, senators, with a few exceptions, have been distracted with other issues.
Sen. James Moylan, in a recent discussion with Rotarians, said: "I'd rather not talk about the tree. I'd rather talk about the economy."
Moylan was talking about the Serianthes nelsonii, which scientists from the University of Guam, local and federal Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Department of Defense, and other partners have been working to preserve for years. While we agree that the tree is important, we would like to see as much discussion and attention paid to what should be the more urgent priorities of this government.
Vice Speaker Telena Nelson recently asked, in light of the recently proposed budget cut for public schools despite the tax increases: Where is the money going? The chairwoman of the legislative Committee on Education brought up that the government is projecting an increase in tax collections for the next budget year yet public education spending faces the budget ax.
Shortly after being sworn in earlier this year, Speaker Tina Muña Barnes said: “Our economy is flat. … Consumer spending is slowing. Our tourism industry is still volatile, and debt has skyrocketed. It is clear that we have a tough road ahead of us."
We believe these conditions the speaker mentioned remain a challenge today.
Our question to the elected officials is this: What have you done about these crucial issues and what is your plan to fix them?