Due to lack of a response from Governor Lou Leon Guerrero on a couple of inquiries sent to her office, Senator James Moylan introduced legislation this morning to amend the requirements for one to receive the proceeds from the Recovery Income Support and Empowerment (RISE) Act of 2020. The program was amended in 2021, and despite a successful override by the current legislature nearly a year ago, Governor Leon Guerrero has yet to implement Public Law 36-53.
“We have asked the Governor to simply implement Public Law 36-53 and pay out the proceeds as approved by the legislature. We have also asked her to amend the program, inclusive of the income threshold, and she has yet to respond,” stated Senator Moylan. “While I appreciate that the administration has used some of the federal relief funds to create local relief programs, the reality is that thousands of island residents, particularly the working class, have not received a single penny of support. The cries of the community are deafening, and with $300 million in federal funds sitting in the government’s bank account, we need to help our island residents, and Public Law 36-53 does just that. Hoarding the funds defies humanity,” added Senator Moylan.
The recently introduced legislation (Bill number is forthcoming) would remove all qualification requirements, inclusive of the income threshold. It would also not require an application process, as those who filed their 1040 for tax year 2020 would automatically qualify. As for those who did not file because they did not meet an income threshold, a non-filer form would be required. The program was amended in 2021, through legislation introduced by Senator Moylan, Tony Ada, and Chris Duenas, to increase the Rise Act payout from $800 per qualified resident to $1,000.
“While I recognize that Governor Leon Guerrero created her ‘All Rise Act’, an $800 stimulus program in 2021, we want to remind her that 1). Public Law 36-53 is law, so please follow the law, and 2). Let’s simplify the requirements of the program, as we don’t want island residents to be standing in line for hours, or running around to secure documents, as they had to do so last year to obtain the Governor’s program”, stated Senator Moylan. “I recall that gloomy morning, which was met with heavy rainfall, as we saw children sitting in a vehicle for hours, so their parents could try and beat the deadline, as the administration deemed the program as a ‘first come-first served’. We cannot repeat that. I won’t allow it,” added Senator Moylan.
Senator Moylan has expressed that when he and his colleagues overrode Bill 76-36, which was enacted into Public Law 36-53 in 2021, that the crisis was somewhat different. At the time the island was facing an economic crisis because of the Covid pandemic. However, now every island resident is dealing with an inflationary crisis, and these proceeds would help many families pay for food, fuel, and other necessities.
“Just as I advocated for an emergency session to address the fuel crisis last month, I will be requesting the Speaker to consider calling for one on this measure as well. This is an emergency crisis, and I am optimistic that we will be successful in this endeavor as we were last month. Those efforts have brought some relief to the gas pumps, and I am hopeful this will do more,” stated Senator Moylan.