Fixes to $10M aid program now law

ADELUP: The Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex is seen Aug. 9, in Adelup. The governor has signed into law legislation called Ayuda I Mangafa. It is intended to help families missed by the initial round of federal relief checks. It promises $500 for each qualifying child of an eligible individual. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

While attention has been focused on the fiscal 2021 budget bill, and the contention between Adelup and lawmakers, two other pieces of legislation passed by lawmakers in early September did manage to gain the governor's signature.

Bills 393-35 and 392-35, both related to the "Ayuda I Mangafa" Help for Families Program, were signed into law on Monday.

Ayuda I Mangafa is a $10 million program intended to help families missed by the initial round of federal relief checks. It promises $500 for each qualifying child of an eligible individual. The Department of Revenue and Taxation has 15 working days from the effective date of the rules to implement the program.

While Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed the bills, she appeared to do so reluctantly. These bills are intended to adopt rules for the program as well as fix issues with the initial law that created the program. The governor refused to sign that initial law, but let it lapse.

Among her initial concerns was the use of CARES Act money in the bill, which the governor said she believed to be unenforceable as the local lawmakers cannot reauthorize or appropriate federal funding once delegated by Congress.

The current bills still authorize the use of CARES Act funds and bar the use of local funds as long as CARES Act funding is available.

"Last week, I appeared before the United States House Financial Services Committee to testify about the substantial needs of states and territories for both additional financial assistance as well as more flexibility in the spending of federal dollars," Leon Guerrero stated in her letter on the bills. "Unfortunately, it is clear that the spirit of bipartisanship that guided the federal government's swift actions in March and April is no longer as prevalent as it was. Despite my continued concerns, I am signing Bills 392-35 and 393-35."

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