Administration continues to question changes to pay plan - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Administration continues to question changes to pay plan

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just as government employees await to see whether or not the governor's Hay plan proposal moves forward, the Administration continues to voice its concern over recent legislation aiming to make significant changes.

The public hearing for Bill 268 isn't until Friday, but it has already left some like the Mayor's Council of Guam along with the Governor's Office voicing their concerns.

And while others have chosen to criticize the measure introduced by Senator Michael San Nicolas, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz says it's a start. "There is no perfect bill, there is no perfect plan, but it is a vehicle by which we can discuss, what needs to be discussed and make a determination from that," he said.

Bill 268 would approve the Government of Guam Competitive Wage Act of 2014 but would require a performance based standard for GovGuam directors and deputy directors of line agencies along with the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the public auditor. That however doesn't apply to senators leaving their salaries at status quo.

As for whether senators should be under the performance plan, Cruz believes every election, voters decide whether or not senators are performing their duty. "So that happens for us every two years, so whether or not it's in the bill or anywhere else, the difference between $20,000 or $60,000 is done by the voters themselves, which is the most important performance factor that we have to address."

For Senator Chris Duenas, he agrees with the Administration that this performance based standard shouldn't be selective. "I would like to start by saying that every public official to include senators should be ready to answer to the public and have their performance measured at any time," he explained.

The governor had suggested that senators be included in the proposed performance pay plan and even recommended amending the bill to delete the senatorial pay raise of December 2010 and provide that senators can get their pay raise back if they meet the requirements. Duenas says he has always been open to salary cuts, noting, "Once again, In all fairness to all of the discussion, I think where we are right now is there's been a proposal that's been put forward that senators, and I led the charge on this on Friday as well, and senators, it is widely known that we could follow the example of the governor and simply not take this increase. I think to go back now, and I'm not saying I'll be opposed to it, I just don't want to get in a back and forth, where it's 'you cut your salary, you cut your salary' I don't think that particularly is productive."

The Administration meanwhile continues to raise concern over how some cabinet and elected officials will be affected by Bill 268. "We want to try and make sense of what's happening in our government and the reality is many of these things don't come up for a periodic review," he said.

The Administration further notes that the governor's revised Hay plan will correct some of the inequity that exists within the government itself such as how autonomous agencies have been able to pay their employees competitive wages where as the line agency employees haven't but are just as deserving. "So when they criticize elected officials like the mayors or many of our appointed directors who actually get paid less than their counterparts in some respects 2000 for example, Joey San Nicolas, who is the fire chief who gets paid far less than many of his battalion chiefs and captains, it really calls into question the organization," he said.

In a release this morning, the Governor's Office note that the fire chief has a salary of $74,000 - well below the average of $90,000 that captains in the fire department make with their base salary, overtime and other financial benefits and incentives. This is just one of several examples the administration has noted relative to disparity in pay and positions.

Most of these concerns are expected to be discussed this Friday. For the vice speaker, he hopes to not only hear more from the employees but also that DOA will have more concrete details and the requested documents relative to this Hay plan. "That we'll have a better understanding of how they plan on implementing this and whether or not it is affordable and whether or not we'll be able to move forward on Friday with some kind of action or if not Saturday then, I think Saturday is the last day that we need to get something out from this body," he said.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks meanwhile did not want to comment on Bill 268 only telling KUAM that the OPA is doing its own plans for employees, separate and apart from the hay study. The Attorney General's Office notes they would like to review the bill before commenting. Sinajana mayor Robert Hoffman meanwhile says the Mayors Council of Guam will be holding an executive council meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue further.

The Calvo Administration in the meantime continues its push for an amendment to be included in Senator Michael San Nicolas' Bill 268 even going so far as calling him a hypocrite citing several comments and interviews he's done over the years.

According to a release from the Governor's Office, during a debate on legislation that would rescind the senatorial pay raise that was tied to judges salaries, Senator San Nicolas mentioned that "people get what they pay for and with a low salary, the legislature will have a difficult time attracting quality leaders." ...  This, the administration says, is the rationale they use to support it's Hay plan proposal.

This isn't a new topic as Senator San Nicolas even addressed the topic during KUAM's D12 Tonight when asked if we has for cutting senators salaries as a result of the government's financial challenges. "I would like to be one of those senators that earns his pay I would like to be one of those senators that does such a good job that maybe you'll even want to give me a raise," he said.

The Administration says lawmakers were the only elected leaders to see pay raises in the last 20 years.

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