Pangelinan waiting to meet about Hay raises - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Pangelinan waiting to meet about Hay raises

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - While it tends to be a war of words between the appropriations chair and the governor of Guam, most recently with the ongoing budget sessions, Senator Ben Pangelinan has offered to meet with Governor Eddie Calvo, more specifically to discuss options to help pay hay raises.

It was last week when Governor Calvo urged lawmakers to fund the long-awaited hay plan for Government of Guam employees. And following the first week of the budget sessions, Senator Pangelinan offered to meet with Governor Calvo to discuss just that. "And we're encouraged that both Democrats and Republicans are willing to work with us on that issue," said Phil Leon Guerrero. "We understand that Senator Pangelinan wants to meet and discuss it and we're happy to continue the dialogue but ultimately the conversation right now is at the Legislature."

Leon Guerrero, the governor's deputy press secretary, says no meeting has been set just yet but that isn't to say that the administration's not hopeful that a solution can be reached. Senator Pangelinan has continuously refused comment to KUAM over the budget and did so again today. However in a release over the weekend, Pangelinan said he hoped to convince the governor in the upcoming meeting that by combining agency appropriations and giving increased flexibility to the executive branch to cover both operations and tax refunds that there could be enough saved by the Executive Branch to implement the hay pay raises, continue to timely pay all of the 2013 and future refunds and maybe even restore cola for retirees to levels prior to 2008.

"I think the Governor is willing to continue the dialogue however he can," Leon Guerrero said. "His goal right now is to find a way to help fund the Hay Study, "and the way he identified was to use the 2-percent reserve to begin funding it."

BBMR director John Rios stressed that exact point during the budget session last week, however, Pangelinan says because the government no longer has the ability to borrow for tax refunds, the budget bill reported out of committee appropriates that 2% reserve instead for tax refunds. Pangelinan ultimately says he's willing to hear the governor's plan to ensure that we can stay current on refunds and increase the annual government payroll by $18 million.

Leon Guerrero meanwhile says the reserve was in place for deficit reduction and as announced earlier this year, the deficit has since been eliminated. "So now that the deficit is gone, Governor Calvo is looking for solutions to fund these raises so that our government employees can get just compensation," he said.

Leon Guerrero meanwhile says it all comes down to Pangelinan working with senators on a solution that not only will help all our employees but will be a win-win situation for both the Guam Legislature and the Calvo Administration. We should add the call to pay the Hay Study comes to light as an increase in Section 30 funds has been identified - new information that would require the substituted budget to be amended.

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