GGRF not participating in spending cuts roundtable - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GGRF not participating in spending cuts roundtable

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Discussion continues on the governor's spending cuts bill tonight specifically provisions related to the Government of Guam Retirement Fund. However, the Retirement Fund has decided not to participate, stating its position stands firm and is leaving the decision up to the Guam Legislature and the Executive Branch.

It was Friday when Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz paid the Retirement Fund a visit during its board of trustees meeting hoping to keep the lines of communication open between both the administration and the Retirement Fund. However, it appears that the Retirement Fund has instead decided it would not participate in tonight's discussion. Gerard Cruz told KUAM News, "We don't have an agenda and its not whether our lack of showing up is moving forward or holding still a cause. Our sole cause is to protect the Retirement Fund."

In a letter to Vice Speaker Cruz today, GGRF director Paula Blas states its in the best interest of its members and retirees that the fund not participate in overall government policy. Gerard Cruz, the board treasurer, agrees. "So we decided to do and what we don't want to do is try to get into a position where we're dictating public policy for the general government," he stated. "We know that that's not our position and the fund was never set up to contemplate those kinds of ideas. so we want to make sure that we stay within our place."

The letter further states that the board's position as stated during the first public hearing on Bill 507 in September remains steadfast in its opposition against an early retirement incentive program and any extension of the unfunded liability amortization period. BBMR director John Rios meanwhile says as a former director of the Retirement Fund himself he understands the concern but states the Calvo Administration's ERIP program would cost less - about $3 million less, then the Retirement Fund's proposal of a hybrid program.

He said, "We're just going to stand strong on this early. It makes sense that if it's going to cost less than the hybrid plan, hen why don't we do the early retirement and the cost would be less for us."

Rios meanwhile agrees that one can't exist without the other but hopes the measure can finally move forward because every day they wait on the bill to pass, the less savings will occur. "I think the Legislature would have to make that decision, and I think it's important that it should be on the floor of the Legislature so that it can be discussed between the senators to make that decision," he said.

The Retirement Fund agrees in which Cruz states he feels they've completed their role in the process not only offering their position on the proposal but providing several alternatives as well. "The way we would like to proceed is we're willing to take a look and analyze proposals that have been put forward by either the administration or the legislature in order to determine the impact to the fund," he said.

The Retirement Fund's alternatives included a "Furlough Friday" plan, a voluntary separation incentive program coupled with a hybrid retirement plan and implementing a pension bond. And while they opposed the Furlough Fridays alternative, the Administration and the vice speaker proposed a compromise alternative to implement a smaller early retirement fund program limited to employees who are within five years of retiring and a ten-year temporary extension of the amortization period.

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