Guam – Bill 268 or the Guam Competitive Wage Act passed along party lines Saturday evening. Only the Democrats voted yes on the measure that amends the Governor’s Hay pay plan so that agency heads, senators, the Governor and Lt. Governor get no raise.
The bill only gives raises to the unclassified and classified rank and file and a smaller raise to mayors. “We’re also requiring the Department of Administration to come back and inform everybody of where the rest of the money is going to come from for the additional money that’s needed for the raises,” said Senator San Nicolas.
Senator San Nicolas says this was added into the bill after Department of Administration Director Benita Manglona failed to provide any details about the governors Hay pay plan to lawmakers during two separate hearings. The bill also requires that DOA identifies a funding source and a specific appeals process for those employees who feel there is something unfair about the Hay plan. Once these things are provided pay will be retroactive to the February 14th date.
Republican Senators were the first to speak out against the raises for senators that would’ve payed lawmakers $85 thousand dollars a year. In a previous interview Senator Limtiaco said,“That has me quite alarmed because when we go and look at annual base salaries for state legislators throughout the country you know putting us at 85 thousand dollars would put us second only to California but more shockingly when you look at the per capita cost of the number of people who are senators here represent as opposed to California it’s shockingly 216 times as much. so it’s a number i wont accept as senator and it has to be addressed” Senator Tommy Morrison also opposed the pay raises for senators saying previously, “I’m struggling with the fact that when i go out into the community I’m see a lot of our families still struggling to make ends meet. and its really unconscionable right now for me to accept a pay adjustment of that magnitude knowing that this is happening in our community.”
However both senators Limtiaco and Morrison voted no on the measure as did their fellow Republican Senators Tony Ada, and Chris Duenas. Senators Aline Yamashita and Brant McCreadie had excused absences. “One of the things that really disappoints me is when elected officials get up and make a lot of noise but don’t take any action and this bill is actual action to take away raises from elected officials and it was an opportunity for all the senators who had concerns about those things to actually vote for it. For senators to be complaining about something but not actually having their votes reflect where they stand is very disappointing,” said Senator San Nicolas.
So why did Senator Limtiaco vote no? “Section five of the bill says senators won’t get a pay raise but that’s as it applies in the recommendations in the act, but in so much as whether or not we will truly get a pay raise that’s a matter of interpretation and I say it does result in a pay raise,” said Senator Limtiaco. The Republican Lawmaker believes bill 268 allows for a pay raise by not amending the recommended raises for judges. Guam law links the salaries of judges to the salaries of senators it says that senators will receive 50 percent of a superior court judges salary. “By approving the Guam competitive wage act you are in effect setting the statute for that pay and the statute was by recommendation that the superior court judges pay would increase and therefore senators pay would increase as well because they’re linked,” said Senator Limtiaco.
“That’s too much telegraphing. If the Judiciary does in fact do something that impacts the raises of senators we’re definitely going to have to take action at that point. If we’re taking this position now with this budget bill clearly the senators will turn around and also reaffirm that position in the event that that were to happen. I’m already confident among my colleagues and definitely with myself that if there were to be any salary increases for senators in the future we’re going to remain consistent and reject those salary increases,” said Senator San Nicolas.
Meanwhile the Governor has indicated that he will likely veto the bill.
“I don’t know why the Governor is so hell bent on giving raises out to himself all the elected officials and his directors. If he vetoes this and his original proposal goes through he’s going to short change all classified and unclassified employees because that money would’ve gone to them and instead it’s going to be going to all of the leadership,” said Senator Limtiaco.
The Governor’s Director of Communications Troy Torres has said that both the Governor and the Lt. Governor “Believe it is wrong for the legislature to deny without any H.R. experience the recommended salary adjustments to the Mayors and Vice Mayors the Public Auditor the Attorney General and the Cabinet. These positions are severely underpaid.”