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.