Governor Defends Position on COLA
Guam - As lawmakers returned from recess, a new substituted budget bill was added to the agenda this morning. Senator Chris Duenas raised an objection because he said he just received a copy of the measure and wanted more time to review it. His objection was overruled however by a majority and discussion on the substitute bill continued. The Governor meanwhile is already threatening to veto the measure calling the new budget "irresponsible". Governor Eddie Calvo says if the bill reaches his desk it is dead on arrival. The Governor lists several concerns with the new version by committee chair on appropriations senator Ben Pangelinan. Chief among those concerns is what he calls "empty promises to govguam workers and cola recipients." Calvo says "the legislature knows full well that the government cannot afford the full implementation of the hay plan along with the full restoration of the cola to $1,800 all in one year." Governor Calvo says he supports a fiscally responsible solution by implementing a phased in implementation of the hay plan (based on cash availability) and an increase of COLA to $1400 which would be funded from his 2-percent reserve. The Governor adds Senator Pangelinan's new budget bill proposes using up his 2-percent reserve for other purposes and "purports to fund the full implementation of the hay and cola to $1,800." The Governor defends "This government just got out of a deficit. It's not rich. It can't afford to be Santa Claus. Some of the senators are setting up the government to dress in a red robe and a Santa hat, but all he'll have is a sack full of charcoal to send around the island. . None of them deserve to be lied to. We should pay them what we're able to pay them. We shouldn't promise them something we know will not be there."
Several government of Guam retirees are at the Legislature watching the discussion on the new budget bill.