Republican senator James Moylan is calling for the reversal of pay raises recently granted to the director and assistant director of the GuamHousing and Urban Renewal Authority (GHURA).
The GHURA board of directors approved the pay raises on Friday, Sept. 11.
The executive director’s salary went from $153,479 annually to $159,498 while the assistant executive director’s salary went from $106,985 to $111,244.
In a letter to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Moylan said these 4% salary increments are also being paid retroactively to January 11 and 14, 2020, respectively.
“While no one discounts the importance of evaluations, the reality is that we are living in a period of both a health and economic crisis and that the last thing any government agency needs to be approving at this time are pay raises for their management,” the senator said.
While he understands that GHURA is federally funded and that the actions of the GHURA board will not impact the general fund, Moylan said the reality is that over 35,000 island residents in the private sector have either been furloughed or are experiencing reduced hours at work.
In addition, hundreds of local businesses are uncertain on when, or even if, they may be able to reopen their operations. He said the optics of the pay raises are both unfair and dissolute and they further exacerbate the “us” versus “them” division that has emerged during this pandemic when it comes to the public and private sectors.
“Considering these arguments, I simply ask that you request the GHURA Board to immediately rescind their decision, and further, that you sign an Executive Order prohibiting any government agency or instrumentality, inclusive of autonomous entities, from approving salary increments (inclusive of retroactive payments) to heads of their respective departments during the period of a Declaration of a State of a Public Health Emergency. I am certain that neither the Executive Director or the Assistant Executive Director of GHURA will consider their compensation package prior to the increments as being unreasonable or deem themselves as underpaid,” Moylan said.
He added: “I am contemplating introducing legislation to address this issue, but as you are aware, that process is lengthy, and being in the minority, we may face some roadblocks. But if it is the process to heed towards, then it shall be one we will proceed with. However, this can be avoided if you were to simply sign an Executive Order to halt this process. Interestingly on Friday morning, you spoke to members of Congress to seek more federal funds for our island, yet that afternoon, one of your boards approved a policy to spend federal funds on pay raises for their agency heads. Is that the message we are sending Congress, to give us more money so we can issue salary increments for Cabinet members?”