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  • Pacific Island Times News Staff

Democrats push for pay raise repeal

Sen. Michael San Nicolas, left, and Sen. Regine Bisco-Lee introduced Bill 11-34, proposing pay raises rollback.

Another bill seeking to repeal the controversial pay raises for Guam’s elected officials has been introduced in the 34th Legislature.

Bill 11-34 proposes to restore pay for elected officials to levels prior to the enactment of Public Law 32-208 in November 2014.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Michael San Nicolas, Régine Biscoe Lee and Sens. Telena C. Nelson.

“Salary increases for public servants are always a divisive issue, but the specific process by which these raises were authorized without open hearings and public input has had serious consequences for our government,” reads a press release from the bill’s authors.

Public Law 32-208 authorized pay raises for Guam’s elected officials and brought the salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor and senators to record levels while minimum wages for the people of Guam remained at a standstill.

The law was passed without a public hearing and has been widely rejected by the people of Guam. As multiple efforts to amend the law have failed, and as the people of Guam have continued to raise objections.

“Our people deserve elected officials working to improve the island, not arguing over their paychecks,” Nelson said.

“Any public law, particularly one as controversial as Public Law 32-208, should receive a full public hearing and take into account the voice of the people of Guam. The decision by the 32nd Guam Legislature to pass Public Law 32-208 in a lame duck session, without the people’s direct input has created years of controversy and dominated the public discourse while infrastructure, innovation and investments for our people have not. The time we’ve spent discussing, responding and re-legislating these pay raises could, and should have been spent improving the lives of the people of Guam,” Bisco-Lee said.

Sen. Frank Aguon earlier filed a similar piece of legislation, Bill No. 4-34.

"We've seen several versions of this raise repeal fail in the past two years because of one reason or another. I think it's high time that the island's top elected officials set the example. While a full repeal of 32-208 is preferred, we just keep

hitting a brick wall. If we want to effect change - let's start with ourselves, from the top down and start chipping away at this brick wall," Aguon said.

"Bill No. 4-34 will affect only the governor, lieutenant governor and senators.

Additional measures can be taken to reduce the salaries of other elected and politically-appointed officials with separate legislation. But let's start here - with us, right now."

Bill No. 4-34 seeks to exclude the governor and senators from the Competitive Wage Act of 2014, setting the annual salaries of the governor at $90,000; the lt. governor at a rate $85,000; and senators at $55,303.

"If you take a look at news stories from our local media outlets online and if you scroll through the comments on social media sites, you'll see one resounding theme no matter what the issue is: the people of Guam want these raises repealed,"

Aguon said.

"Tax refund payments are on the horizon, the court’s decision to affirm the $14 Million award to Guam YTK, Simon Sanchez High School needs to be rebuilt and the people feel we haven't put these issues first. Let's repeal these raises quickly and move forward."

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