Of the. Mike San Nicolas gave a note of hope for Guam’s future during his speech to Congress on Monday, his first since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the island in March 2020.
“Our island is at an inflection point, emerging from the greatest danger our community has faced directly since World War II,” he said of the pandemic.
Much of the speech focused on the money and federal programs his office had been striving to secure. Gaps in federal funding were being closed through improved earned income tax credit repayment, a larger Medicaid funding pool, and the inclusion of Compact of Free Association migrants in the program, a. he declared.
With the virtual elimination of the General Fund deficit, improvement in debt ratings and the $ 600 million pending US bailout, the opportunity presented itself to local authorities to improve the situation in terms of debt. public safety, education, public health and economics.
According to the delegate, it was possible to reach a “golden age” that had not been known since the 1990s.
“We won’t see a similar confluence of circumstances, which will raise our credit scores and increase our debt ceiling capacity like we have today. Which means people in this room, to include me, if we screw this up, we definitely screw it up, ”said San Nicolas.
Closing the CHAmoru Land Trust should be one of GovGuam’s top priorities, he said.
The delegate also gave an overview of how things were shaping up in DC
Some $ 814 million in Defense Ministry investments were planned for the next fiscal year 2022. Including $ 118 million for a missile defense system for the island. San Nicolas said he was also in talks with members of the US Congressional Armed Services Committee about establishing flight capabilities for the Guam Air National Guard.
Recognition for those who suffered from Agent Orange exposure in Guam was also secured in a recent law before the Veterans Committee.
The Guam Economic Development Authority will receive $ 55 million to support local businesses, San Nicolas said, through the state’s Small Business Credit Initiative. There was also a plan for a federally funded private equity transaction through GEDA, to allow federal investments in local businesses through share purchases.
Talks had started over whether Guam had the power to enter into trade deals with other countries, San Nicolas said. His office discovered that the island was not included in free trade agreements between the United States, Japan and Korea and had to pay high tariffs on exports.
It was not possible to change the chords, but it was possible that Guam would form his own.
“We were informed that the law did not say whether Guam, being outside the US customs area, could not negotiate its own trade agreements. There was no trade law expressly prohibiting it,” he said. he declares.
The delegate’s office had also worked on bringing a number of bills to Congress:
- HR 157, to include Guam in Supplementary Social Security benefits;
- HR 282, to allow retired federal judges to serve on a temporary basis in the Federal District Court of Guam
- HR 2899 to obtain a study of national heritage areas for Guam, with the possibility of an average of $ 500,000 to support sites such as the Plaza de Espana;
- HR 3066, which would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to intervene in cigarette tax evasion on the island; and
- HR 3211, a measure that would allow all new GovGuam hires to be registered with federal social security.
San Nicolas has expressed support for the temporary relocation of Afghan allies to Guam. An estimated 70,000 people, including spouses and children, must be evacuated as the United States withdraws from Afghanistan.
“There is certainly an active push with quite a few numbers on the Congress side to make that happen. And of course we are on board with that, we have certain conditions that we want to see fulfilled,” he said. declared.
One of these conditions was that refugees be vaccinated before resettlement. While there has not yet been a word from the Biden administration on the success of the relocation, the delegate said the recent announcement of 3 million vaccines for Afghanistan could be a subtle clue.
“We’re the most pragmatic, we’re used to having gone beyond before. We’re close as a US jurisdiction. And that’s just something the people of Guam, I think, have proven their ability to do.” , did he declare.
Contact reporter Joe Taitano II at [email protected]