Speaker's Weekly Address, October 9
Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz
The 31st, Guam Legislature is not in favor of furlough Fridays— PERIOD. The "furlough Friday" proposal is just one of three alternatives that came from the GovGuam Retirement Fund, and any inference to the contrary is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.
Late yesterday afternoon, Governor Calvo issued a Special Address arguing that he would veto any spending cuts proposal which would decrease government payroll through an across the board reduction in hours worked. The truth is Governor--we agree—we have always agreed-- furloughs—in the face of other options hurt too many people and just won't work given the challenges we face. But your statements—your desire to lay blame on the retirement fund for presenting alternatives won't work either. About two weeks ago, after a public hearing on your retirement proposal—a hearing full of bickering, incongruent facts, and misunderstanding shared by both sides—I asked your administration to sit with the Retirement Fund and work together. I committed to you that I would do the same.
I wanted your administration and the Retirement Fund to work together because I believed we shared the same goals, we all wanted to achieve real cash savings while ensuring that those who chose an early retirement at age 5o could still rely on the Retirement Fund at age 55.
I asked each of you to work together because—no one—not the Retirement Fund, the Legislature, your administration, the tax payers, or government employees would benefit from a failed General Fund, a Retirement Fund in collapse, or costly litigation between the Fund and your administration— something the Fund has said it might be compelled to do under your existing proposal.
Governor, how will you realize your prospered savings within one fiscal year if you spend the rest of your term in office in a court fight with the Retirement Fund simply to defend your proposal?
Where will the money for extended litigation come from and just how much are we willing to pay? Al throughout this process you have asked our community for alternatives. And while we agree that this is not the time for furloughs this certainly isn't the time to wash our hands of the work we must do together—leaving the lives of working families in the balance.
For nearly three weeks I have spent almost every moment of my day grappling with the issues we face as a people. And, as been said recently, no one can be right all of the time and even a broken clock is right twice a day. Governor, on this bill—for these important issues let's forget about laying blame and lets jut focus on getting things done. My office will be announcing a hearing on the Retirement Fund's other alternatives—a voluntary Separation Incentive Program and hybrid plan projected to save $15 million in real cash-- and the issuance of a pension bond for a projected savings of $8 million.
The Fund presented these alternatives because they may help our cash position and lessen the burden we place on taxpayers by lowering the Fund's demand on working people. I hope your team will come to the table constructively and continue to be a full participant in this process.