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Weekend eventful at Legislature

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - In one word Governor Eddie Calvo describes Bill 268 an "abomination". It was on Friday when an intense public hearing was held on the governor's Hay pay raise plan proposal along with legislation that aimed to change it. And the measure eventually made its way to session floor during a very eventful weekend at the Guam Legislature.

"We have two choices before us choice number one is we do nothing and the governor's version of this gets implemented that costs millions and millions dollars more or choice number two is we do something more responsible," said Senator Michael San Nicolas. He said the responsible choice was passing his Bill 268. the original version of the measure would have implemented pay raises for classified and unclassified employees while tying raises for several management level employees to performance based standards.

However during Saturday's session, the bill was substituted removing the performance based standards and prohibits raises for the governor, lieutenant governor, senators in the Guam Legislature, the attorney general, the public auditor and GovGuam directors and deputy directors. Under the plan, the only elected officials receiving an increase are the mayors and vice mayors who would see $10,000 raises - a figure San Nicolas called a more down-to-earth-increase that was fairly reasonable.

"And where I get that 20% number is from my experience in the private sector - I mean, a 20% increase in the private sector is extremely generous, very unheard of," he said.

Under the governor's plan, mayors would have earned $75,000 a year. A 60% increase San Nicolas says is absolutely unheard of.

Senator Tommy Morrison meanwhile spoke out against the bill saying lawmakers shouldn't just be tampering with the mayors pay but tampering with the study as well. He raised caution over playing with people's lives. "So I'm not sure what precedence we're setting here for the future when we put in place studies to assist with this process to completely deviate and pick and choose what should be in the plan and would should not," he said.

Senator Ben Pangelinan however says the government doesn't have enough money to give raises to everyone let alone taking the payscale up to market rate for all. "You take care of the people in the trenches first and that's your classified and unclassified employees that are covered by these specific pay plans that we are authorizing in this bill and then the leaders can wait nobody, no director is going to go hungry because they're making $75,000," he said.

Meanwhile other provisions were added to the bill including moving up the implementation date and possibly providing lawmakers with more details on just how much the plan would cost broken down by agency - information they felt DOA was less than forthcoming within the past few weeks. "It will be affective February 9th and if the department of administration takes it time getting that information to this body, the pay adjustments will be still retroactive to February 9 so our people will be made whole," he said.

Under the governor's plan, he hoped to see pay raises go into effect by February 14.

San Nicolas closed Saturday's session debate saying while the directors or even the mayors may be unhappy with Bill 268, it wasn't about being political rather responsible and hopes the governor will see it for what's it worth and the value it represents. the measure eventually passed by a Democrat majority with a vote of 9-4 with all Republicans present voting no with Senators Brant McCreadie and Aline Yamashita excused. 

Governor Eddie Calvo meanwhile criticized Bill 268 today saying the measure proposes a full implementation of the Hay plan that will be more expensive by the millions than what his plan proposed which was a phased in approach. While Bill 268 passed straight down party lines, does Governor Calvo plan on vetoing the measure?

"I'll reserve until the whole bill is researched but cursory its an abomination," he shared. "As we review the bill, I'm looking for more errors and flaws, inequities and inefficiencies and trying to figure out the rationale behind the democrat majority's creation but its a very bad product and I don't think very bad products I should put my name into."

DOA director Benita Manglona meanwhile stated that the governor's plan had based its implementation on the cash it had programmed whereas the legislature was now just meddling into the whole picture.

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