Reactions mixed about pay raise suspension - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Reactions mixed about pay raise suspension

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - The reviews are mixed when it comes the governor's decision to freeze government raises. "I'm glad he started to take some action on trying to address the fiscal situation in the government," noted Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz in reference to the announcement by Governor Eddie Calvo that he is freezing raises for GovGuam employees covered under the Hay Study and implemented under the Camacho Administration.

Wednesday night, the decision from Adelup was made public: no more raises in the coming months despite a $13 million budget appropriation to bring public sector workers salaries closer to that of their stateside counterparts. The governor defended with a $116 million budget shortfall, GovGuam can't afford it at this time.

But the freeze comes after the Department of Administration has paid out $2-3 million in pay increases. Nearly half of the Government of Guam workforce received retro active payments dating back to October 1. Whether the government can afford the pay hike is a matter chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Ben Pangelinan, says should have been given a closer look before the freeze.

"It think there is not enough information to make that kind of decision the governor says we have a shortfall of $116 million; I think he needs to put his cards on the table and tell us where the shortfall is going to occur," said Pangelinan. He added that the suspension of the Hay Study could have possibly been avoided by examining the budget and making necessary adjustments.

Without mentioning names, Governor Calvo before island Rotarians addressed the notion that the government is not in such dire straits as to warrant a halt on the pay increase. "There was another public servant that mentioned earlier in the media that I was exaggerating the financial affairs of this government," he announced. "Lemme tell you, if there was any way I could make a decision that did not impact the livelihood  that means taking money from a paycheck that means lowering their pay, I would find that course of action."

Such is a course that other senators like Republican Mana Silva Taijeron are endorsing wholeheartedly. She told KUAM News, "Absolutely we need to make sure our healthcare system is in good standing, we need to make sure our education system is running and operational and to be spending so frivolously at this point we need to make sure that our basic necessities are met everyday."

And the vice-speaker points out the tough decision could have gotten tougher if it was avoided, with Cruz saying, "We are probably better off taking this little hit now than either having a shutdown at a later date, or worse yet - having some major layoffs."

Leroy Quintanilla, who works for facilities and maintenance at the Department of Education, is one of the GovGuam employees who will now not see a raise under the Hay Study recommendation. Asked if he was disappointed that he won't be seeing the increase he was expecting, he responded by telling KUAM News, "No...it's always that way, we just gotta move with the flow and service the kids they are our customers."

Such is an attitude other GovGuam employees may not share but for now will have to accept.

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