The new governor, Felix Camacho, addressed the island last night. To put it bluntly, the government is deeply in debt and cannot make payroll in the next couple months. His solution? Raise taxes, and borrow $120 million, and maybe he might possibly consider the eventuality of perhaps someday in the indeterminate future address the issue of whether the government could face the reality that at some point he might task his directors with looking at the conditions necessary to conceivably layoff a couple hundred GovGuam employees. Not that his administration would make such a drastic move; he would empower the legislature to make the politically devastating decision to axe the lazy minions that pad GovGuam’s payroll.
It’s no secret that GovGuam is overloaded with staff. Cushy government jobs are awarded to the political faithful and their relatives, often filling positions with unqualified loafers. And GovGuam benefits are very plush; a fully funded healthcare system, generous leave accrual, a plethora of paid holidays, and a plush retirement pension fund. Too bad they can’t pay for this anymore. Hell they could never afford to sustain these programs indefinitely. Seems like the time has come to gut these benefits. But the politicians are caught in this cycle of catering to the GovGuam voting bloc: Any cut in these benefits, or God forbid – a round of layoffs, and the responsible politicians will be quickly escorted from office. I seriously doubt any Guam politician has what it takes to lay people off.
Instead, our ostensibly Republican governor is going to raise taxes and take out a gigantic loan against our already heavily indebted government infrastructure. Just what our struggling economy needs, higher taxes and an increased debt load.
I can think of a number of things to help GovGuam out of this mess.
- Layoff several thousand mopes across the entire GovGuam payroll. Everybody talks about eliminated the “dead weight” in GovGuam’s payroll. It’s high time for people to get laid off. I’m not talking ten of fifteen people. Thousands need to lose their jobs. Put the fear of God in the lazy bastards and make them actually work. Maybe that way someboy will finally answer a damn phone in a government office on a payday Friday…
- Close non-essential government offices. The passport office, the medical referral office, SPIMA, CAHA, the Chamorro Land Trust, the Commission on De-Colonization, and consolidate the mayor’s offices into a few regional centers. Mothball the Guam Museum and the Guam Library for a year or two, until things pick up again. It pains me to say it, I love to support the arts and literature, but both those institutions are pathetic jokes right now anyway.
- Raise user fees and licenses and aggressively pursue collections. Bump up automobile registration fees, driver’s licenses, gun licenses, court and police clearance fees, pavilion rental fees at public parks, and any other possible way to make up a little bit of cash.
- Legalize casino gambling. I can think of nothing greater that would spur tourism and create jobs on this island. I’m not talking about measly riverboat gambling or rinky-dink pachinko parlors; I’m talking Vegas-style resort casinos, with large casinos, quality shows and entertainment, and world-class dining. The Japanese would swarm here if we offered that kind of entertainment. I just don’t understand the general fear and scorn the public shows for gambling. Many suggest that it is a “cultural” thing, and that because the Catholic Church opposes casino gambling it must be wrong. Hell, the church is worried about diminishing returns on the bingo game racket they control throughout the island. Others worry about widespread gambling addiction. Uhh, don’t we already have a dog track, legalized cockfights (try finding that anywhere back in the States), and sanctioned gambling at village fiestas and the Liberation Day Carnival? Somebody somewhere is pulling a fantastic snow job on the people of Guam and protecting the vested interests in this under the radar gambling that goes on all the time on Guam. Why not bring it above board and tax it properly?
- Sell off the public utilities. Unload GTA, at any price. That should have been done years ago. Same with GWA and PUAG, though I doubt anybody would buy those agencies, they’re so fundamentally messed up. GPA seems financially and structurally stable, but that is because they are an autonomous agency. So if was can’t sell the other public utilities, do the same to them and pull them off the government’s General Fund teat. But unload GTA. The phone system here sucks. Privatization can only improve the situation.
- Institute a sales tax. I was baffled by the fact that Guam has no sales tax. Instead, costs are absorbed by a gross receipts tax on merchants, which seems like a pretty slipshod process. By putting a sales tax in place, we could generate a few million every year. By making this a clear cut tax on sales I am sure the government would eliminate companies under-reporting their profits or just selling stuff under the table.
This was the product of a few minutes brainstorming. I just can’t believe that the only idea our politicians came up with was “let’s take out another loan, and uh, ask the federal government to give us more money, and increase the property tax on the already struggling real estate market.” Different administration, same mopey ideas. Just a different set of talking heads on my TV.