Bill 278 lapses into law; Calvo calls is "political manipulation - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bill 278 lapses into law; Calvo calls is "political manipulation"

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Calling it a political manipulation, Governor Eddie Calvo let Bill 278 lapse into law today. The measure would stop pay raises for cabinet members and all elected leaders except for mayors and vice mayors.

Less than a month since his Hay pay plan went into effect, Governor Calvo let Bill 278 lapse into law. "I'm disappointed but I also understand the will of the legislature."

As you recall, Bill 278 was introduced and passed the day Governor Calvo delivered his State of the Island Address. Senators missed almost all of his speech because of session. Bill 278 would freeze raises for cabinet members and all elected officials to October 1, 2013 levels with the exception of mayors and vice mayors. The bill passed with all nine democrats and republican Senators Michael Limtiaco and Chris Duenas voting in favor. "There's a lot of disappointment and I told my people that they just has to work harder they've done a great job and there's a lot of progress that's been made to this island compared to the past 20 years," he said.

Calvo meanwhile believes it was political in nature how the bill moved forward. "It was through political manipulation that's the only reason why I see you keep the mayors intact and touch everybody else it was clearly a political move made and I don't think it was through any scientific study," he said.

He adds it was for these political reasons that extreme inequities have now been created. "And with that, you're going to see some inequities between some of the folks not granted this pay raise and autonomous agencies and inequities in their own agencies as well when it comes to their classified workforce," he said.

Calvo says once the politics have calmed down, he intends to push forward for the full restoration of hay raises for everyone identified in the hay study- not just his cabinet but the AG and public auditor. "And hopefully in the near future, we can present corrections to this mistake that have been and allow for the hay plan to move forward with fairness and without political interference which has just occurred with the current legislative move," he said.

For now Calvo says with all the progress his cabinet has made to the island compared to the past 20 years, they simply just have to continue to work harder. "I've got some hard working directors and leadership and we just go to work even harder, prove it to the senators, prove it to the people that they deserve that pay raise which I do believe they do," he said.

It was just last week when the Governor's Office released the list of annual cabinet salary increases under the executive plan estimated at $123,000. 

 


 

Editorial on Bill 278
By Eddie Baza Calvo

I'm writing this editorial, not because I believe it's important Bill 278 becomes law, but because Guamanians have a right to know why it disappoints me that senators have denied just compensation to the people's Cabinet. I'm talking about the agency heads of the Executive Branch, to include their elected Public Auditor and Attorney General.

Bill 278 changes the recently-implemented Hay Study. It reverts the salaries of senators, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, cabinet members, the Public Auditor, and the Attorney General to original levels.

As I've said several times, Ray and I are not taking the recommended pay raise, and senators could have simply declined theirs as well, if they wanted to. As a matter of fact, the additional proceeds from my first paycheck after the Hay raises went to two places: GMH and J.Q. San Miguel Elementary School. The proceeds from last Friday's check went to GMH and Simon Sanchez High School. Inarajan Middle School would have received the next one, and other schools down the row every paycheck would have received this, along with GMH. But the Legislature instead decided to make a statement.

The legislature had the occasion to make this same statement last year, when Sen. Mike Limtiaco introduced very similar legislation. That bill would have cut senatorial salaries back to its pre-raise levels. The year before that, Sen. Chris Duenas introduced the same bill; it proposed to give the savings to the purchase of school buses. Both bills never saw the light of day until an opportunity came in this election year to stick it to the Cabinet, the AG, and the Public Auditor.

Let me be the first to be straight up with you on this issue. It was conceived as a political maneuver, nothing more, nothing less. Some senators want to damage our administration as much as possible as we approach the election this year. This is all understandable. I get it. This is what happens in the world of politics, much as I detest it. But these unseemly ways come at the expense of principle and, above all, people. In any good organization, excellent work is rewarded. The Cabinet has been doing an excellent job. Look at the turnaround in this government. That was because of them and their employees. They deserve the compensation the Legislature is so willing to deny them.

 I don't agree completely with this bill. But it will lapse into law without my signature for one reason more important than all others: it's time for the Legislature to concentrate on more important matters. Guamanians gain nothing from politicians prolonging this debate. This bill will lapse so the debate ends, and lawmakers can move on.

 It is my sincere hope the senators who pushed this through will now work with us on the 10-point agenda we outlined in the State of the Island address. Ironically, there was such an insistence to pass Bill 278 that nine (Democrats) out of 15 senators felt it was an emergency to pass this bill and skip the annual report to the Guamanian people, which contained the 10-point agenda (The Republican senators, along with Sens. Aguon and Barnes did show up after session ended). Let's just call this for what it was: a boycott. Senatorial leaders, you can dislike me, but please respect that this is the office of the people. I don't quite understand how senatorial salaries are more important than school construction, universal pre-K, teacher bonuses, housing for the homeless, crime suppression, foster homes, mass transit for all, roads, property taxes, Hagatna redevelopment, or the Ordot Dump. But, now that the salaries question is out of the way, I'm very hopeful the nine senators can come to the table on these 10 points, and other issues of importance to our people.

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