GOV. Eddie Calvo is asking Congress to authorize the release of about $173 million in federal funds for projects related to the military buildup.
At least $33 million of that amount is for Guam projects promised in the Programmatic Agreement which would be used for a mental health facility and repository to house cultural artifacts that may be unearthed by the military during the buildup construction period. The $139.4 million is for critical infrastructure projects.
“It’s not a significant amount when you compare it to the cost of the military buildup, but it is very significant in another way,” Calvo said. “The release of that funding will be the first release of military buildup funds meant to benefit Guamanians. Congress can send a good signal to the people of Guam that they, too, are committed to the ‘One Guam’ commitment by the Navy by releasing these funds.”
The release of the funds would indicate that the U.S. government is serious about its other commitments to build civilian infrastructure to offset the impact of the buildup on Guam’s local community. the governor added.
“Its unfortunate Congress suspended this funding this fiscal year. I want it reinstated come October,” Calvo stated.
The governor has already sent letters to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-CA, and Adam Smith, Ranking Member, D-WA. The committee meets today to mark up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.
Calvo is also asking Congress to authorize the release of the $33 million that was already appropriated and authorized under the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act. This fell through when the federal government put in restrictions on spending money without specific congressional approval beyond what was already approved for release.
“Given the ‘strategic pause’ in the military buildup, I strongly urge that now is the time to begin addressing civilian infrastructure to ensure that the island is prepared to accommodate and welcome back the Marines,” Calvo stated in the letter.
Last week, representatives from the Joint Guam Program Office and the Department of Defense informed Calvo that Japan’s contribution to the Marine relocation from Okinawa to Guam was reduced from $6.1 billion to $3.1 billion. A portion of the $3.1 billion was supposed to be earmarked for low-interest loans from Japan to improve and expand Guam’s infrastructure.
With the clarity on the buildup came ambiguity on the future funding for infrastructure improvements, Calvo said. He promised to press the U.S. government for clarity and a stronger commitment on funding for Guam.
“If those infrastructure funding commitments from Japan are now out of the picture, then I think it’s important that the federal government pick up those commitments to ensure this is a ‘One Guam’ approach,” Calvo stated after his meeting with JGPO and DOD officials.