Discussions on pay raises take up hours at the Legislature - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Discussions on pay raises take up hours at the Legislature

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was last week when the Guam Legislature grilled the Department of Administration on questions over the governor's pay raise plan proposal. Today, an intense public hearing was held on legislation aiming to change the governor's plan drawing even more questions for DOA.

Senator Michael San Nicolas introduced Bill 268 last week and today it went up for its public hearing. The measure implements the GovGuam Competitive Wage Act of 2014 while requiring a performance-based standard for directors and deputy directors along with the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and public auditor. "This will set us on a course to make good of what we obligated ourselves to in respect to pay and make quality of life not just a catchphrase but expectation tied to management compensation," he said.

Of those in support of the measure included members of the University of Guam social work program. Wes Tumacomy said, "The implementation of this hay study would mean a 50% increase in entry level salaries of social workers and this would bring the salaries of social workers in line with other social workers in the Untied States."

The bill drew several GovGuam directors and deputy directors, like Civil Service Commission executive director Tony Lamorena who raised concern over language that places authority over granting of raises of certain cabinet level and elected officials with the CSC. Lt. Ed Artero meanwhile on behalf of Fire Chief Joey San Nicolas questioned the performance based standard aspect of the bill. "These appointments are confirmed by the legislature so if there are failures this legislature should take responsibility. If there is a failure by the cabinet members the legislature has oversight powers to bring to life this failure. The Government of Guam is a performance based organization - our governor sets his director, and we are held to task to meet it - if we fail, we are subject to dismissal," he said.

And for others like Janet Aguon were simply against the pay increase for all elected officials and political appointees, saying "And again I shall emphasize no pay increase for elected officials or political appointees, it should be put out to the people as a referendum the pay increase the senators gave themselves in 2010 it should be repealed, thank you very much."

Department of Administration director Benita Manglona meanwhile noted concerns over Bill 268 such as the executive performance pay plan and the approval of salary recommendations for rate of pay positions saying to the extent that is was not reasonable. And then just like last week, lawmakers once again questioned DOA on the governor's actual plan from its methodology and how it differs from the 2010 plan.

"I just need some figures, why is it that you won't give us the numbers for each one of the agencies?" questioned Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz.

Manglona stated it would cost $20 million to implement the plan but failed to provide specific details to the satisfaction of lawmakers which seemed to frustrate them even more.

After much debate, Manglona asked lawmakers to approve the plan however Senator San Nicolas says lawmakers could not simply go off of faith and just trust the governor's plan. "We're all saying trust the governor he's just going to follow through but even right now in the current environment we're not making it that's one of the reasons why I want to stick this performance language in here I mean certainly if we're not making it now we shouldn't be getting raises either. Unless we're fully funding education, public health and public safety," said San Nicolas.

Manglona said, "I would like to make a comment to your comment about education - I'm sure that you were here back in 2010 the condition of education back then what was condition of 2010, wasn't it back then when education was put in a third party?" San Nicolas said, "Do you want to go back to then, Benita?"

The hearing lasted just as long as last week's however lawmakers recessed until Monday for the DOA to return once again with more details on the plan. 

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