Bill seeks pay raises transparency

Sen. Clynt Ridgell has introduced a bill that seeks transparency to any salary raises proposed for managers and employees of government boards and commissions.

Bill 151-35, which would require a legislative review of any autonomous agency's pay adjustment plans, was filed on the heels of controversial executive pay raises discussed by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities behind closed doors.

“In the spirit of open government and accountability, we have learned that the current law is inadequate with addressing how boards and commissions should conduct discussions for salary increases for appointed employees in respective autonomous agencies,” Ridgell said.

Under Bill 151-35, any proposed salary adjustments will “have to lay before the legislature for 90 days before it becomes effective. This 90-day wait period will allow for more transparency as it will allow time for the legislature and the public to review and weigh in on the proposed increases.”

Ridgel credited former senator Robert Klitzkie for conceptualizing the bill. “Senator Klitzkie gave me a call and recommended that I consider legislation that would create more transparency on boards and commissions,” he said. “Klitzkie went even further and emailed me some proposed language. I took a look at the measure, discussed it with my staff, mulled it over a bit and decided that this bill was indeed necessary.”

In a letter to members of the 35th Guam Legislature, Klitzkie said, “The recent closeted antics of the CCU as they provided exorbitant raises to the GPA/GWA mana’kilu cries out for action by you.”

The former senator suggested a complete prohibition of discussion of “anything even remotely related to salary increases in executive session.”

Klitzkie said the enactment of the proposed Salary Transparency Act of 2019 “would hold accountable for legal compliance the chair of every board and commission engaging in salary adjustment.”

He said the 90-day wait “would allow you to nix board or commission overreach, e.g. that demonstrated by the CCU last Nov. 27.”

Ridgel said the bill is “another step toward improving transparency and earning the public’s trust.”

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