Terlaje & San Agustin pushing for lower gas prices

Therese Terlaje

Speaker Therese Terlaje is asking for your help to convince her colleague, Sen. Joe San Agustin, to move her gas price-cutting legislation forward. Mr. San Agustin, meanwhile, says the bills are moving as quickly as possible through the process. He also introduced similar legislation.

Ms. Terlaje in March introduced a bill to get rid of a liquid fuel tax hike republicans pushed in 2018. She simultaneously introduced another bill to get rid of the liquid fuel tax on unleaded and premium grade gasoline altogether. Passage of that bill will have the affect of cutting 23 cents per gallon of gas at the pump. Two of the island’s three major gas providers – 76 and Shell – provided testimony assuring they will pass the price savings onto their customers.

The bills have been stuck in Mr. San Agustin’s Committee on Appropriations, though.

“I’m trying to manage it as best we can,” Mr. San Agustin replied, when asked when he plans to report the bills out of his committee for the full legislature to vote on them.

He informed Kandit he introduced legislation that will place a moratorium on the liquid fuel tax for six months.

Here is a news release from Ms. Terlaje’s office on the matter of moving her bills forward:

Speaker Therese Terlaje is enlisting community support to urge Bill No. 261-36 (COR) be reported out of the Committee of Appropriations for action by the Legislature.  Bill No. 261-36 would bring a savings of 23 cents per gallon to all individuals and businesses at the gas pumps through the repeal of the Liquid Fuel Tax (LFT).  The proposal had a public hearing on April 7, 2022, where local gas companies lent their support for the measure promising that the reductions “if enacted, would be passed on to the consumers.”

To address any confusion regarding the source of funding for the repeal, Speaker Therese Terlaje requested an amendment be made to the legislative intent of the bill to remove any reference to federal ARP or Infrastructure money for clarification, though they were never identified as a funding source in the bill.  The substitute version of Bill No. 261-36 (COR) proposed to the Committee on Appropriations by Speaker Terlaje also keeps the 8-cent fuel tax for commercial aviation only, which would reduce the overall fiscal impact of the measure to approximately $4 million for the remainder of FY22 and $8 million annually (down from $10.5 million) moving forward. Bill No. 261-36 did not repeal any of the current FY 2022 agency appropriations and the substitute bill added language to reiterate that FY 22 appropriations for agencies receiving funds from the LFT would not be affected by the measure.

Speaker Terlaje was able to get Bill No. 261-36 onto the April session agenda as a potential item, however, the committee has not reported the measure out, thus, not allowing the bill to move forward onto the April legislative session agenda for action.

With approximately $143.9 million in excess revenues over that last 3 years (between FY 2019 and FY 2021), and the current fiscal year tracking at $68.4 in surplus, the Speaker stated, “It is clear to me that the people of Guam are looking to the Legislature to help resolve some of the short-, medium- and long-term economic issues facing our island and our families due to the rapidly increasing cost of fuel and food.  We need to prioritize our struggling families, most of who were living paycheck to paycheck prior to the pandemic and are no longer able to stretch their money to the next payday.  These families are being hit the hardest and we must respond swiftly and decisively before we prioritize $5 million for capital improvement projects or other items that are not as timely as the needs of our residents. Bill No. 261-36 has the potential to assist all gas consumers on Guam, not just a select few.”

The Speaker is urging the community to contact the Committee on Appropriations and urge that this bill move forward.

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