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Sen. Dennis Rodriguez has offered a compromise to the Governor's hospital modernization proposal that will accomplish Gov. Eddie Calvo's vision without raising taxes: end the industry exemptions on payment of the gross receipts tax. It is anticipated that the amount of money that will be generated when certain industries begin paying their fair share of taxes is similar to the amount that would be raised if the GRT was raised to 4.75%.
 
"The biggest criticism to raising the GRT when the governor's bill was first introduced came from people asking, 'Why should I pay more taxes when a whole bunch of companies don't pay any taxes?'" Sen. Rodriguez said. "It is a good point, and we can't ignore it. Before we even put a tax increase in front of the legislature or the voters, the legislature can instead level the field for taxpayers. If we need for the taxpayers to modernize GMH - and we do - then we're going to call on the businesses that have been getting a break to share in the responsibility. Corporations shouldn't get a pass."
 
Sen. Rodriguez's office and the Governor's fiscal team will be collaborating over the next week to produce new legislation that will authorize the overhaul and modernization of the hospital - language that should be identical to the bill the Governor introduced. Legislation that will be different is about the funding source for the repayment of any bonds that will be floated to pay for the modernization upfront. This language will swap out a GRT increase with the closure of exemptions on mature industries (critical exemptions for cottage or budding industries of small businesses will remain under this proposal).
 
"I agree with Governor Calvo's deep concern for modernizing GMH sooner than later," Sen. Rodriguez said. "There's no doubt, this needs to happen. We just needed a funding source that our people will accept and that will likely garner the support of more senators. Once this new bill is ready, it will be introduced, I will push for hearings, and I will help the hospital to get this done."
 
This is a developing story.
 
RELATED TO THIS INFORMATION: GMH modernization is critical to the future of medical care on this island. The other critical component is access to affordable and quality medical coverage. The Legislature recently passed and the governor signed into law one of the few state-driven employer mandated health insurance laws in the country. Sen. Rodriguez believes the government cannot stop halfway and must complete the passage of policy critical to the future of medical care on Guam by authorizing the modernization package.
 

RODRIGUEZ CALLS ON TOURISM, OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFCIALS AND EXPERTS TO ROUNDTABLE MEETING TO DISCUSS STATE OF TOURISM AND IMPACTS TO ISLAND.

 

Tamuning, Guam.  Tourism Committee Chairman, Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., has called for a Roundtable Meeting on Friday, October 20, 2017, 1:00pm at the Guam Congress Building to discuss the state of affairs in tourism and the potential impacts a shift in projections for the remainder of 2017 and 2018 may have.

 

President and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), Mr. Nathan Denight, his management team and Board of Directors have been invited to present the status of visitor arrivals to Guam, the efforts proposed in mitigating the decline in visitor arrivals, and to provide an update on all markets among the matters to be discussed.

 

Senator Rodriguez has also invited the agency heads of the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport (GIAA), the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA), the Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR), the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT), the government’s Chief Economist, the President of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA), and other stakeholders to actively participate at the October 20th roundtable meeting.

 

“We need to bring all our minds and efforts together to address recent developments in our number one industry.  We ought to move quickly to devise an economic assistance plan that takes into consideration the current environment and provide strategies to help our local businesses, our workforce, our government, and our people weather this out on both a short and long term basis,”  according to Senator Rodriguez.

 

“The eventualities of a softer tourism outlook as previously projected needs to be understood by all and, by calling all our leaders and experts in the field is a first step toward working on a unified front to minimize any negative impacts to our people,” Rodriguez added.

 

All interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend the October 20th meeting to provide input on this important matter.  The Committee on Tourism expects to hold follow up meetings to ensure all efforts are transparent and followed through.  Follow up meeting dates will be announced at a later time.

 

For more information, contact the Office of Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr. at 649-8638.

 

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Hafa Adai people of Guam!

Todu Guam is preparing for the 6th Annual Hall of Fame & Married Couple Recognition Program Induction.  

Please take some time and nominate your favorite Manamko' or Married Couple for the 2017 Honors!

Here are the forms:

Guam Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Nomination Form

Married Couple Recognition Nomination Form

Here is a direct link to the poster for a convenient full screen look! 

Deadline to submit your nomination is Friday, October 6, 2017.

For more information, please contact our office at 649-8638/0511.

Si Yu'os Ma'ase'!

Legislative Chairman on the Committee on Health Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., announces several actions to improve the Guam healthcare system. A series of bills that address the chronic shortage of primary care providers, lack of access to our providers due to lack of insurance coverage and our ability to take advantage of future innovations were introduced Friday, June 23, 2017.  

First, a new approach in delivering government sponsored health plan. Bill 133-34  The “MAÑAINA YAN MAÑE’LU ISLAND COMMUNITY HEALTH PLAN OF 2017 will replace the Medically Indigent Program.  The program consists of three parts: Mañelu, Mañelu Plus and Mañaina care.  Government will no longer solely manage this program, but will enter into a public private partnership with local insurance companies to manage the care provided. The Mañelu plan is similar to the current plan and will cover patients meeting the 100% Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Mañelu Plus allows the FSM governments to contribute their Compact funds if so desired to increase eligibility up to 200% and finally Mañaina Care focuses on those benefits specifically needed for our elderly population. 

The companion bill addresses the Medicaid population through a pilot project that will expand eligibility from 108% FPL to 200% FPL. Bill 132-34, which will be known as “The HealthCare Para Todu Plan”. Unique in this approach is the funding in which Guam will access monies set aside by the Federal government pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.  Guam was not allowed to fully participate in ACA but was given an allocation to use. Using these funds in collaboration with an employer sponsored plan, Government of Guam contribution and an employee contribution spreads the cost among many and thus lessens the burden and puts insurance coverage within reach of approximately 16,000 residents. 

Bill 131-34, establishes safeguards in statue that would ensure health dollars are accurately used on claims and expenses that improve the quality of health care. In addition provides for a system of checks and balances to protect our people from any unnecessary increase in their health insurance premiums.   

To address the chronic shortage of providers a set of seven bills was also introduced today. Bill’s 127-34 through Bill 130-34addresses partnering with military providers and giving them a pathway to volunteer in the community.

 Bill 126-34 adds another category of provider to the primary care team called “assistant physician”. This position will create a pathway for medical school graduates that have not yet been matched to a residency to serve under local physicians under a collaborative practice agreement. 

Bill 125-34 addresses our relationship with foreign and domestic physicians not licensed on Guam. This bill puts in place a temporary permit that allows these professionals to work side by side with our local professionals for a limited time and for a specific purpose. 

Finally, Bill 124-34 will allow Guam to join 18 other states in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This “behind the scenes” legislation makes it easier for physicians to obtain licenses to practice in multiple states. By joining this compact it increases the possibility of physicians coming to Guam and also may be incentive for military physicians to partner with our local physicians during their stay on Guam. 

Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., Education Committee Chairman Senator Joe S. San Agustin,  Senators Morrison, Nelson, and Esteves introduced Bill 70-34 today relative to converting Simon A. Sanchez High School to a charter school as well as setting a clear path to finally construct a new Yigo campus.  

 

The bill is aimed to shift the burden of borrowing of over $100 million dollars through a previous bond-borrowing law to a prospective charter school, whereby, they would finance the construction of the new school and with the yearly allotments the charter school would receive which is pegged at $6500 per student.  Senator Rodriguez stated “This bill is intended to create a means to allow for the immediate rebuilding of the much-needed Simon A. Sanchez High, but not on the backs of our taxpayers, but to be paid for with annual allotments given to the charter school to educate their students.”

 

Bill 70-34 authorizes the ability to enter into a Long-term lease for the purpose of facilitating the financing, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of Simon A. Sanchez high school.  In addition, there would be no construction cost appropriation for the new Simon A. Sanchez High School as the costs for the construction will be amortized over many years and paid for within the budget allotments provided to the school.  Co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Joe San Agustin stated “This is a win-win for our community.  The residents of Yigo and students of Simon Sanchez will be able to finally get the new school they need and deserve. This bill if passed, will also provide our government the ways and means to address the needs of all other public schools on Guam.”

 

The rebuilding of Simon A. Sanchez has faced many challenges over the past several years.  Although authorized through public law, continued protests regarding the procurement and selection of the contractor tasked to build the new school continues to plague the efforts to make this new campus a reality.  “The Government of Guam continues to fail the People of Guam, the residents of Yigo, especially the students of Simon Sanchez High School, by not providing a safe learning environment for the high school students of Yigo, that many other Guam students enjoy.  This bill will create a mechanism for this much-needed Simon A. Sanchez High School re-build by eliminating the bureaucratic “red-tape” of government that has continued to fail our People.” Rodriguez stated.

 

For more information, please contact the office of Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr. at 649-8638.  Si Yu’os Ma’åse’!

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