Guam- Government of Guam employees can soon breath a sigh of some financial relief as Governor Eddie Calvo lifted the two and half year freeze on salary increments Thursday afternoon.
“I’m here today to give the good news that I will be lifting the freeze on the salary step increases that were imposed earlier in my administration on all GovGuam workers,” said Calvo.
Joined by Speaker Judi Won Pat, Senator Tony Ada and Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez, Governor Eddie Calvo signed Executive Order 2013-0004 to lift the freeze on salary increments for Government of Guam employees. He also ordered that retroactive amounts owed to all GovGuam workers be paid and salary step increases be reinstated.
About $5 million dollars is estimated to be paid out. The governor is not sure how much of that is retroactive pay. However, he notes around six to seven thousand employees will benefit from the lifting of the freeze. The increments could be tied to the next pay cycle.
Calvo says the local government is finally financially stable and surplus revenues are now going toward his obligation to GovGuam workers. Won Pat, Ada and Fernandez all welcomed the good news.
“Our people have been suffering and I’m hoping that with this increments and monies that they’re going to get and back monies owed to them that they use it wisely, of course, and that it go further than what else could be available,” said Won Pat.
“I know these government workers, as much as they do for our government, as much as they do for the people of Guam, that they continue to do it, regardless whether that freeze is in place or not,” said Ada.
“This is absolutely wonderful news for all the employees who have been waiting patiently,” said Fernandez. “That’s a reward for the hard work they’ve been doing and a recognition of the mission of education and the fact that these employees keeping to work each and every day.”
Shortly after his announcement, the governor recorded his special address about the lifting of the increment freeze. He explains the freeze was implemented shortly after he started his term to stabilize GovGuam and cut down on spending. Calvo says now that the government has a stable outlook, it’s time to fulfill his promise to the people.
He also tells PNC the revenue projections from the first quarter of this fiscal year are looking good.
“We’re a little on the positive side,” said Calvo. “And thanks to the great management of all the Government of Guam agencies, including Department of Education. Our expenditures are in line as well. So what we saw happening in 2012 appears to continue in that vein in 2013.”
Read the Governor’s Special Address On Restoring Increments Below:
Special Address on Increments
By Eddie Baza Calvo
My fellow GovGuam employees,
Over the past two years I’ve asked you to make a lot of sacrifices. In order to have enough money to pay tax refunds, you supported the bond and you went without your pay adjustments and increments. We really didn’t have a choice because this government couldn’t afford to pay its promises to you. In essence, previous leaders wrote you a bad check… and on the note they forgot to write, ‘Empty Promise.’
I’ve been honest with you about our government’s fiscal situation. Every step along the way, I’ve kept you informed about all the bills we have to pay and the money coming in. You didn’t complain when we prioritized tax refunds. You didn’t complain when I told you that in order to pay these bills, we will need to sacrifice within government. I told you about our plan to fix government finances, and I promised that once everything became stable, I would restore your increments.
I made that promise to you, and today I’m keeping that promise to you. Minutes ago I signed an executive order lifting the freeze on increments, and ordering retroactive payment to all employees who earned the increments during the freeze.
We are able to restore increments because, since December last year, our government has been in a position of increasing fiscal strength. We paid off the tax refunds, and we began paying very old bills, like overtime and the merit bonuses. We’ve reduced the aging of vendor payables in the line agencies, and we’re living within our budgets. I’m very proud of all of you because we wouldn’t be where we are today had it not been for your sacrifice. More importantly, despite your sacrifice, your commitment to excellence has ensured the survival and improvement of this government.
Imagine where we were just two and a half years ago… when this government was on the brink of collapse… and look where we are today. Your sacrifice was part of the reason we are a stronger government… now in a position to serve our people and the generations who will follow.
With continued fiscal discipline, we will pay the remainder of the merit bonuses, implement the pay adjustments, and pay all our other outstanding liabilities. For the first time in your memory, the promises this government has made to you will be fulfilled.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
Read the Governor’s Executive Order Below:
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 2013-004
RELATIVE TO LIFTING THE FREEZE ON SALARY STEP INCREASES FOR ALL GOVERNMENT OF GUAM EXECUTIVE BRANCH EMPLOYEES BY RESCINDING EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 2011-14
WHEREAS, this office took steps to curtail a cash crisis, a growing deficit, and the structural imbalance of the General Fund since the start of this administration. Part of the comprehensive fiscal plan toward stability included the freeze on salary step increases for classified employees and raises for unclassified employees, which was ordered on October 12, 2011 through Executive Order No. 2011-14; and
WHEREAS, because of these efforts and the sacrifices of government of Guam employees, for the first time in decades structural balance has been restored to the General Fund, cash flow is positive, and the cumulative deficit has been replaced by a surplus; and
WHEREAS, the decades of fiscal mismanagement led to the withholding of retirement benefits, tax refunds, public services, and other unpaid fiscal obligations. Government was, in essence, living beyond its means, promising core services to its constituents and compensation to its employees it simply could not afford; and
WHEREAS, it was necessary to curtail spending, be honest with taxpayers and with government employees about the condition of their government, require sacrifice from all quarters, and operate under austerity until this government could once again afford the promises it had made. This included the freezing of increments, among other financial decisions inclusive of the implementation of the 15 percent reserve, the suspension of the pay adjustment plan, massive attrition, and others; and
WHEREAS, thanks to the patience and sacrifice of government of Guam employees, the formula worked. Since December of 2012 the government of Guam has been in a position of increasing fiscal strength, able to pay tax refunds on time, operate services within budget, and begin to pay down outstanding liabilities, such as overtime and the meritorious bonuses; and
WHEREAS, now is the time to alleviate the burden that has been placed on government of Guam Executive Branch employees, and to reduce the sacrifices they have been making to set this government on the road to fiscal recovery. Indeed, the government of Guam now is in an increasing position of fiscal strength.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDWARD J.B. CALVO, I Maga’lahen Guahan, Governor of Guam, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Organic Act of Guam, as amended, do order:
1. Effective upon my signature below Executive Order No. 2011-14 is rescinded, and salary step increases for all classified employees and raises for unclassified employees of the Executive Branch shall commence as the law, rules and regulations allow.
2. All increments earned during the period of the freeze shall be paid by the Director of Administration to all eligible employees of all line agencies and the Department of Education.
3. All increments earned during the period of the freeze by the employees of the other semi-autonomous and autonomous agencies, public corporations and instrumentalities of the government shall be paid by those agencies, in conformance with their budgetary authorizations.
SIGNED AND PROMULGATED at Hagatna, Guam this Thirtieth day of May, 2013
EDWARD J.B. CALVO
I Maga’lahen Guahan
Governor of Guam