AUDIO: Speaker’s Weekly Address: “We Have Real Questions, That Deserve Real Answers”

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Guam – Speaker Judi Won Pat takes Governor Calvo and DOA Director Benita Manglona to task for failing to explain how much the Governor’s Hay pay plan would cost each GovGuam agency.

During a hearing on the proposed Hay pay plan last Friday, Senators repeatedly asked DOA Director Manglona how she arrived at the $20-million dollar cost for the raises,  and what the breakdown was for each GovGuam agency.

“She refused to provide the information,” says the Speaker.

 Saying that lawmakers have “real questions, that deserve real answers“,  Speaker Won Pat says the Legislature needs “to know the breakdown of the cost from agency-to-agency, so we can ensure there won’t be any shortfalls, and that critical services will not be negatively impacted.”

HEAR the Speaker’s Weekly Address HERE>>>2-4 speakers address 2-04-14.mp3    

Won Pat says lawmakers had to make “a tough decision” last Saturday “in order to give the governor the necessary 10 days to act on our revisions to his proposal.”

But she explains that without the information they asked the DOA Director to provide, “the Legislature chose to act in the best interest of the people” and passed a revised measure that gives raises to classified and unclassified employees effective February 9th, but the raises won’t be paid out “until the Administration provides the information the Legislature has been requesting.”

READ the Speaker’s Weekly Adddress below:

Speaker Judith T. Won Pat’s Weekly Address
For Release – February 4, 2014
Buenas yan Hafa Adai,

Since the Governor released the Guam Competitive Wage Act of 2014, the Legislature has asked for more information. Most significantly, we’ve wanted to know where the $20 million needed to fund his plan will come from, if the Legislature only appropriated $7 million in this year’s budget. We’ve also asked how much it will cost each agency.

Unfortunately, we are still waiting for answers.

At a public hearing on Friday, my colleagues repeatedly asked the Department of Administration Director Benita Manglona how much these raises would cost each agency; however, she refused to provide the information. She would only report what we already knew – that overall, the raises will cost the government $20 million. She kept encouraging us to simply pass the Governor’s plan and trust that they would have the funding to implement it.

Think for a moment, if you wanted to renovate your home and you hired a contractor who said it would cost $20,000, you would have a lot of questions. Questions like how did the contractor determine his charges? What is the breakdown of the cost from room-to-room?

Do you have enough money in your account to cover the cost? If not, are there certain renovations you can prioritize over others to stay within your means?

This simple logic applies when considering the Governor’s proposal. We are asking the same kinds of questions. We need to know the breakdown of the cost from agency-toagency, so we can ensure there won’t be any shortfalls, and that critical services will not be negatively impacted. It’s the most prudent thing to do.

A tough decision had to be made by Saturday, in order to give the governor the necessary 10 days to act on our revisions to his proposal. Without the information we requested, the Legislature chose to act in the best interest of the people. Understanding that we have limited financial resources, we prioritized raises for our hardworking classified and unclassified employees. We listened to the community, who came forward with many concerns, and voted on a revised plan that will provide raises to most government employees by February 9.

This revised plan, however, will not fund pay increases for appointed agency heads and elected officials, except for mayors and vice-mayors. This frees up money to ensure our hardworking classified and unclassified employees will receive the raises they have waited 20 years for.

These raises, however, will not be made available until the Administration provides the information the Legislature has been requesting. If the information is not made available by February 9, employees will receive their pay retroactively to that date once the information is provided.

I encourage you to contact the Administration and urge them to provide this information, not just to the Legislature, but to all tax payers, who deserve to know how their money is being spent.

We have real questions that deserve real answers. It may not be popular to question pay raises at this time, but it is responsible, especially when we are struggling to fund and sustain our critical services.

Saina Ma’ase.