PDN: U.S. Should Increase, Not Cut Compact Impact Funds For Guam

EditorialHAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 30, 2017)

President Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate $3 million in discretionary funds used to offset the financial impact of regional migrants from the Freely Associated States.

Rather than cutting support to our community, the federal government should give us more money to provide educational and other services to people from the Freely Associated States.

Under the Compact of Free Association agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, citizens of those nations are allowed to live and work in the United States and its territories. In return, the United States has access to those nations for defense purposes. It is an arrangement that benefits the U.S. strategically and helps citizens of the Freely Associated States who are seeking economic and educational opportunities.

Congress promised to reimburse Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa for expenses related to regional migrants. The government of Guam estimates the impact of regional migrants was $142 million in fiscal 2016, and $1.07 billion from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2016. In recent years, Guam has received $16.8 million a year in federal compact-impact reimbursement, about half the money allocated to all jurisdictions.

In addition to permanent reimbursement allocations, Guam receives money in the form of discretionary funds to offset education and infrastructure costs. According to the government of Guam, the Guam Department of Education received $2.8 million a year from discretionary funds in 2012 and 2013. That was cut to $1.7 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015.

While the money has been cut, the population of people from the Freely Associated States on Guam has increased. In 2012, there were 6,463 students from the Freely Associated States attending public schools here, according to the government of Guam. In 2016, there were 7,792. The government estimates the cost of educating those students was $62.5 million.

The federal government should keep its promises to Guam and the region. The Compacts of Free Association benefit the United States, and the United States should pay for the impact of its agreements in the region.

Pacific Daily News
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