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Limtiaco concerned about senatorial pay increases

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was earlier this week when Governor Eddie Calvo announced plans to implement Hay pay raises by Valentine's Day. However the pay adjustments for some positions isn't drawing the support from everyone.

Freshman senator Michael Limtiaco says while he agrees that our government's classified employees from teachers to nurses to law enforcement deserve a pay adjustment, senators shouldn't be included in the mix. "What caught me as a surprise was the increase in senatorial pay from $65,000 to $85,000," he said.

The pay adjustment is part of the hay study plan submitted by the governor this week that would take effect on Valentine's Day. The plan was put together by the Department of Administration's HR Division utilizing information collected during the study conducted by the Hay Group in 2009 and 2010 along with certain adjustments made by the governor that includes adding senators to the plan.

In a letter penned to DOA, Limtiaco says he was alarmed over the astonishing increase. "And when you take a look at that number and you compare it to other states, it would put us in the upper tertiary of all states and second only to California on a base-salary standpoint what's even more shocking is when you look at it at a per capita cost, the number of people that we represent, our senators represent here on Guam, as opposed to that of other states, it's significantly high," he said.

Limtiaco adds while he's not suggesting senators make no money as some have made positive changes in the community, he believes money, not service may attract people to run for office for the wrong reason. Senator Tommy Morrison meanwhile also stated he's struggling with the increase as many families are still making sacrifices to make ends meet.

Speaker Judi Won Pat meanwhile says she absolutely supports the increase for senators, saying, "However my understanding is in spite of our non participation, they went ahead and did it based on the work that was done. This is yes a full time legislature there's a lot to be done. I think it's important people should try to walk in the shoes of a legislator very similar of the mayors who are very deserving of this salary increase because we always say they're the front line people."

She further questions whether the government can actually afford implementing the hay study but says revenues are coming in healthier but it's always good to be cautious. And just as she supports the mayors receiving an increase, so does Sinajana mayor Robert Hoffman.

"It's actually a breath of fresh air on our end because we've been asking for this for a long time on our end the reclassification of what we actually do," he said.

For the island's mayors, Hoffman says the hay plan would increase their salaries from $45,000 to $75,000. He further believes mayors are underpaid and actually do more than directors and senators who are well compensated. "If you look at any staffing pattern within the Government of Guam, we're the lowest paid on that executive secretaries make more than mayors, a whole bunch of people make more than mayors and what does it do, and we don't do it for the money, we do it because we love the job but it also is a struggle," he said.

He says being a mayor is a thankless job but it's nice to finally get the recognition adding mayors have never had an increase.  Meanwhile Limtiaco's concerns over senators salaries shouldn't come as a surprise as he had actually proposed legislation, his first in fact this term, to reduce senators salaries. When the measure hit session floor, it caused heavy debate and an amendment was made to make the cut voluntary. Limtiaco eventually had the bill withdrawn. He not only plans to pursue it once again but hopes to make an amendment to the Hay plan. 

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