‘Investment para Hamyo’: Adelup unveils major pandemic spending plan

HAMYO: Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio unveiled a major spending initiative using federal pandemic aid and grants, and local funds called, "Investment para Hamyo" on Tuesday. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of economic assistance, job training, construction and budget subsidies are being funded over the next three years. Courtesy of the governor's Youtube page.

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of economic assistance, job training, construction and budget subsidies are being funded in a new initiative called “Investment para Hamyo,” which Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio unveiled in a pre-taped televised message Tuesday.

Hamyo is a CHamoru pronoun that translates to the second-person plural form of the English word “you.”

The spending plan utilizes a number of sources, including congressional pandemic aid packages like the American Rescue Plan, grant funding from federal agencies like the Department of Defense, tax credits, and the local government’s general fund. The money will be spent through the end of 2024.

The governor said her administration was “maximizing the life-changing power” in billions given to GovGuam throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the island can transition to recovering from the ongoing public health emergency.

“Because investing in our community’s collective future means investing in our island’s future,” Leon Guerrero said during the broadcast.

A broad range of issues are being tackled through the newly released plan. But the greatest investments presented include:

• $263 million: for a new medical campus in Mangilao “that will house a new (Guam Memorial Hospital), public health center, public health laboratory, and new buildings for the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center and (Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities).”

• $203 million: in airport projects.

• $175 million: in public school repairs

• $80 million: to create a new program that will launch next year to “provide child care assistance to every working family in need with children aged 13 and below.”

• $66 million: in tax credits to finance new home construction.

• $63.5 million: for the Guam Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the Guam Homeowner Assistance program.

• $45 million: in port projects.

• $29 million: to the Guam Power Authority and the Guam Waterworks Authority in direct subsidies “to hold down your power and water bills.”

• $27 million: in technology upgrades to GovGuam agencies.

• $20 million (each): to offer additional grants through the Guam Small Business Pandemic Assistance Program; to the Guam Visitors Bureau for its “Reimagine Guam” project; and to support child care providers like daycare facilities.

Administration officials could not immediately say exactly how much the spending plan would cost in total or how much individual funding sources were contributing to specific investments, when requests for the information were made by The Guam Daily Post.

Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the governor’s director of communications, said a funding breakdown would be available sometime today.

The governor and members of her cabinet also described the program as a “framework,” which can be adjusted as more funds from other sources, like newly enacted federal aid packages, become available.

“There will be adjustments. There will be flexibility. There will be changes as we move along, based on what the circumstances are at the time,” the governor said.

Not a ‘ready, shoot, aim leader’

Senators have repeatedly pressed the governor for her plans to spend federal pandemic aid, including $570 million in discretionary funds Leon Guerrero has at her disposal through the ARP.

The first legislatively mandated financial report for these funds was transmitted on Nov. 4, and disclosed that $135.6 million was earmarked so far. Some of the initiatives listed in this report, including small business relief and economic diversification programs from the Guam Economic Development Authority, were also included in the unveiling of “Investment para Hamyo.”

Preparations for these programs, like stakeholder meetings to tailor aid to those who need it most, contributed to the length of time it took to get to the plan’s release on Tuesday, Melanie Mendiola, GEDA administrator said.

“One thing that’s been clear about this administration is Gov. Leon Guerrero has never been a ‘ready, fire, aim’ leader. She has always put her thoughts together, and consulted the experts, and pressed forward in a methodical fashion – as opposed to trying to make headlines first,” she told reporters at a media conference.

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