Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero remains firm on her plan to use nearly half or $300 million of the $553 million American Rescue Plan funding to build a new hospital, even as Guam could also get $345 million under the federal budget for the same purpose.
"So that gives us $645 million," the governor said in a press conference Monday afternoon about the current COVID-19 situation on Guam.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimated that it could cost $743 million to replace and improve on the existing Guam Memorial Hospital.
"I'm trying to get as much grant and money through federal partners so that we don't have to have such a high debt, and so we don't have to use some of our local monies to pay the debt," the governor said.
Delegate Michael San Nicolas over the weekend said under the federal Budget Reconciliation package, up to $335 million in Department of the Interior infrastructure funding could be available to Guam to build a new hospital.
The governor said the $345 million that San Nicolas mentioned would be in addition to the $300 million she has set aside for the hospital in ARP funding, which she has discretion to allocate.
San Nicolas said the Interior infrastructure funding could free up the $300 million in ARP money "to help our people with relief and recovery" from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor said this is exactly what she's doing with the ARP money.
"I am. I am giving the $300 million back to our people in a very worthy investment and that's building a hospital," she said. "Our hospital has only five more years of life."
The governor said this is her plan, "and I am gonna work to make that plan happen."
The governor has also used portions of the $553 million in ARP funds to help small business apply for grants, among other things. The federal government authorized more than $3 billion for Guam's pandemic response and recovery.