The government of Guam-wide financial audit report for fiscal 2019 should have been released today but publication will have to be delayed, according to Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz.
This is because the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority's fiscal 2019 audit is not complete, Cruz added.
The GovGuam-wide report would have indicated the excess revenues for fiscal 2019 – if any. The excess was projected to be about $22 million by late 2019, although it was initially projected to be $27 million.
The projection quickly led to controversy as lawmakers introduced a slew of bills appropriating from the revenues while the governor maintained that the money should be used to decrease GovGuam's $80 million cumulative deficit.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic wormed into the island, the governor indicated that the excess would be placed in reserve to mitigate the financial impact to GovGuam.
Now, a group of senators have introduced legislation that would "protect public funds from unauthorized expenditures."
Sens. Telo Taitague, Therese Terlaje, James Moylan and Joe San Agustin have introduced Bill 371-35, seeking to prohibit Adelup from spending excess General Fund revenues without legislative authorization.
Doesn't change authorized uses
While the intent of Bill 371 appears to be to require legislative appropriation to use excess revenues for any purpose, the director of the Bureau of Budget and Management Research states the language doesn't actually change what the governor can do with the revenues.
The bill simply adds the phrase "Subject to an appropriation by I Liheslaturan Guahan" in front of existing language on excess revenue usage.
"As such, the Bureau notes that Bill 371-35 does not change the authorized use of General Fund revenues collected in excess of appropriations as codified in GCA," said BBMR Director Lester Carlson.
The only difference appears to be that the bill would require the additional step of legislative appropriation, but does not change what the money can be used for.