Guam - Vice Speaker BJ Cruz recessed Monday's night's public hearing on the Governor's spending cuts bill (Bill 507) until Tuesday evening at 5:30 to hear from the Guam Fire Department on the provisions related to proposed cuts within the agency. Although Department of Administration Director Benita Manglona during Monday night's roundtable said that the GFD provisions would be removed from the bill, the Vice-Speaker said that he would discontinue tomorrow's hearing as well as remaining hearings on the measure as long as the Governor's office submitted a new bill because the current legislation he said was filled with "gaps". Lawmakers throughout the hearing criticized Manglona along with the Administration because the legislation lacked specifics and data to support its many recommendations. Bill 507 aims to cut up to $70 million in government spending. Reacting to Vice Speaker BJ Cruz request for a new bill, Governor's Director of Communications Troy Torres issued the following statement, "if the Legislature does not like what we are proposing they are well within their authority to change it but they cannot escape the simple fact that in order to pay tax refunds they need to cut operational spending. They need to come to the table with solutions and not with negativity and criticism. We are basically fixing the mess that the legislative leadership created for the past three years. The least they could do is identify where else in the spending pie they would like to cut. They don't have the best fiscal track record and they've certainly been opposed to paying the people what they're owed in tax refunds Senator Respicio even said that he'd rather owe the people than the banks. I would question any other motivations with this spending cuts bill."

Meanwhile throughout the course of Monday night's roundtable. The Governor's Communications office and the Democratic Party of Guam were sending multiple press releases and updates on their version of the accounts of the hearing.



5:50 p.m.


Vice Speaker BJ Cruz has called the first hearing on the Governor's spending cuts bill to order. Several senators are present. Human resources managers from throughout the government now are discussing the maternity leave provision in the Governor's bill. The Governor's provision for maternity leave makes it easier for mothers to take leave, and even makes the provision more liberal.Sen. Respicio tried to make a point that he believes the Governor's bill reduces maternity leave. The HR manager from Guam Community College says that is not so. She recommends more clear language in the bill."We hang our hat on every single word in these documents," Sen. Respicio said."Don't you believe this takes away the 20 days for mothers?" Sen. Respicio said to the HR manager at GCC."No. That's not what I stated. That's not what it does," the GCC HR manager replied.#



5:57 p.m.


The government's HR managers and senators now are discussing that the Governor's bill makes maternity leave more liberal than paternity leave.This is true.

 "Is there an EEOC concern? And how would you interpret the provisions that say no more than six months or three months?" Vice Speaker Cruz asked CSC director Tony Lamorena, after the DOE HR manager suggested her interpretation of the law is that disciplinary action would be taken if a parent took more than six months of leave.Lamorena responded that is not so. "My understanding in the (federal) Family Medical Leave Act, I believe the employee has up to a year. If they exhaust their leave, they have up to a year to return to their position. Now, they may not be paid, but the position will remain," CSC director Tony Lamorena replied."FMLA gives 20 days for maternity leave, and 10 days for paternity leave. This bill is consistent with the federal law," Lamorena added.#



6:10 p.m.


Senators are now discussing the provision in the Governor's spending cuts bill that broadens the application of maternity leave.  They are questioning why we want to make it easier for mothers to take maternity leave."We wanted to make it better for mothers when they take maternity leave, it's that simple," Governor Calvo said. "If senators want to change this provision, they certainly have the authority to do so, but it would not be very compassionate." The GCC HR manager also clarified that federal law prohibits discriminating against pregnant women. She believes the Governor's bill removes a provision in the existing local law that may be discriminatory.#



6:32 p.m.


Senators now have moved on to the Governor's proposal to eliminate the ability of senators, the Governor & Lt. Governor, the Cabinet, and unclassified employees to cash out accrued annual leave. This provision, if enacted, will allow retiring employees to cash out their lump sum."We are spending a lot of money every year on lump sum leave. There are a lot of employees who would resign and then come back just so they can cash out their leave. This is basically to control, to manage the cash," Director of Administration Benita Manglona said.Manglona clarifies that this practice happened in the past. Who this bill essentially affects are elected officials and high-level legislature and Cabinet officials. "This is about leadership," Governor Calvo said. "If we're going to cut, we'd better set the example. I took a pay cut, and so did the Lieutenant Governor and our senior staff. The next step is to end the practice of cashing out annual leave."#





In response to what several Government of Guam HRO Professionals called ambiguity regarding the Calvo Administration's proposed changes to maternity leave government wide,  DOA Director Benita Manglona said, "we will leave it the way it is."  While DOA officials say they intended to clarify existing statute, the changes proposed by the Calvo administration would make  maternity leave subject to DOA's personnel rules and regulations.  This does two things.  First, it ties maternity leave to rules not applicable to entities like GCC and UOG.  Second, it creates digression for the granting of maternity leave--something that was an absolute right under existing law. In addition, the Calvo administration's  linking of paternity leave to personnel rules not changed since the 1990s would have the negative impact of reducing from paternity leave to just five days, even while the administration says it intended to provide ten. #



7:08 p.m.


Sen. Respicio has asked the assembled HR managers whether it would be prudent to stop discussions on the spending cuts bill until 'deficiencies' can be corrected.

 "If you claim it as a deficiency, then it's something that can be fixed now," Dir. of Administration Benita Manglona said."If we fix it in this forum, then it's the legislature that will be tagged with this bill," Sen. Respicio replied. The administration fervently believes the legislature must act on the spending cuts bill now and not wait. These spending cuts are needed to fully fund tax refunds. Delaying the cut in spending further delays the ability of the government to make good on tax refunds.It was around this time last year when the Rules Chairman did say he'd rather "owe the people, than owe the bank," in reference to his opposition to the Governor's original plan to fully fund all tax refunds up to Tax Year 2011.

Manglona questioned why senators and the administration could not use this current roundtable to make changes to the bill if the legislature believes changes should be made."If this is a working session, then why don't we work together?" Manglona said. "Isn't this why we're here? We're supposed to work together."

"You're not being cautious. You're being reckless," Sen. Respicio "This is why we're here to cut spending to pay tax refunds. Right now we're trying to match cash receipts with cash disbursements. Right now they don't match," Manglona replied.#





While the Calvo administration says it only intended to make the law governing accrued leave for nurses consistent with other Government employees, DOA Director Manglona now admits bill 507's repeal of all accrued leave for nurses was unintended. It appears that in the administration's hurry to submit bill 507(COR), they would have accidentally ended accrued all leave for nurses.  The Governor's proposal "accidentally" repeals the entire section of law.  The Democratic Party of Guam said: "In only the 2nd hour of hearings on  Governor Calvo's proposed spending cuts, we've been left with ambiguity and confusion in maternity leave, the accidental removal of accrued leave for nurses, and what DOA has admitted is the end of leave sharing for members of the National Guard and Reserve.  Sadly, Human Resource Professionals throughout the Government of Guam were not consulted before the bill was presented to the legislature."  



7:30 p.m.


The legislature is currently analyzing the proposal to end leave sharing unless it is for medical reasons."The leave sharing is to go back to its original intent for medical purposes," Director of Administration Manglona said."It concerns me," Vice Speaker Cruz said.This bill does not take away the 15 days of military leave this government provides our servicemembers. This bill does not take away their job. All it does is restrict the ability of other employees to donate their annual leave, down from 90 to 60 days, which is the federal standard -- and only for medical purposes, which was the original intention of the leave sharing law.





While DOA Director Benita Manglona says the administration never intended to repeal personal leave for teachers, she now admits: "That is what it says."   The Calvo administration's bill 507-31(COR), would repeal in its entirety, the statutorily guaranteed granting of personal leave to public school teachers.