- Written by Clynt Ridgell
One of the major topics of discussion at the GMA debate was whether or not GovGuam could afford to give out more tax breaks known as qualifying certificates or Q.C.'s to companies. The topic was sparked by the recent news that the new regional medical city which is still under construction in Dededo is seeking tax breaks from GovGuam.
Debate moderator Dr. Nathaniel Berg asked, "No physicians on Guam receive GRT waivers yet they create jobs and provide a valuable service to the community. Do you think we can afford to give out more tax waivers?” No I don't believe so and I was the one who wrote to the OPA and asked her to review the situation we have currently with the Q.C.'s because the last time it was reviewed was in 2001 by the I.G. for the Department of the Interior at that time he said that there was inequitable application of the law and Guam was going to be losing tens of millions of dollars over the next several years," replied Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz.
Republican candidate Michelle Taitano replied saying, “Well I think that the Q.C.'s were initially meant to entice investment on Guam so that's good because we're offering them to come and invest so that we can have jobs on island but one thing is that it does need I believe more of a monitoring process."
"I introduced a bill that would have required the Guam Economic Development Authority establish a qualifying certificate review committee that does this cost benefit analysis not the politicians that are gonna do it, it's gonna be the technical experts within the government of Guam,” said Democrat Incumbent Ben Pangelinan adding, "Unfortunately the Democrats supported the bill and the Republicans didn't and so therefore we don't have that it's sitting there and the Governor vetoed it."
Candidates were also asked about whether or not they supported the idea of using taxes from the new private hospital to fund the Guam Memorial Hospital and if so what they thought about the new hospital getting a Q.C. that would result in less taxes that could be used for the Guam Memorial Hospital. Republican Candidate Tommy Morrison said, "Well first of all that's a pretty genuine idea first of all the reality is here we don't want to create an environment that is unfair to our medical professionals here who have been contributing to our economy for many years we have to face it we are in a fiscal crisis right now we are constantly eroding our tax base and this is one clear example of what is happening right here and we would like to see that idea is incorporated into this process this application process."
At the end of the debate Republican Candidate Michael Limtiaco asked whether or not candidates would be willing to give up a portion of their senatorial salaries. "Just a yes or no answer do you support cutting your pay to fund and prioritize critical things like education public safety and health care ?” asked Limtiaco. “Yes,” replied Democrat candidate Benedicto Toves. “I say yes,” said Democrat candidate Joe San Agustin. “Yes,” replied Democrat Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr., “Yes,” answered Democrat candidate Frank Gumataotao. “Yes and we just introduced a bill today to do just that," said Speaker Judi Won Pat.
PNC will air the GMA senatorial debate on Saturday the 27th on Fox6 at 7p.m. and again on Sunday the 28th on ABC7 at 4p.m.