Administration clears stumbling block to GovGuam pay raises
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The administration has released its plans related to unpaid merit bonuses, pay increments and assistance for the Guam business sector.
The plans were submitted last week to the Guam legislature in compliance with a new law that authorizes a 22 percent adjustment to the general pay plan, which was deferred shortly after it was rolled out.
Satisfying the requirements of Public Law 37-3, which Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero earlier described as "bureaucratic red tape," has paved the way for the implementation of pay raises for employees of the government of Guam.
P.L. 37-3 appropriates $21 million to fund the pay raises through the end of the current fiscal year.
"Pursuant to Public Law 37-3, the Office of the governor submitted the required plans to the Guam Legislature for unrelated matters, including merit bonuses, annual increments, and financial assistance to businesses, on May 5, 2023," reads a statement from the governor's office.
"As a result, the Department of Administration can now release the augmented cash allotments to the respective entities for the new pay adjustments under the GPP," the statement added.
The governor began implementing the pay adjustments on April 1. However, Sen. Frank Blas Jr. said the move was premature,
He reminded the governor that P.L. 37-3 required the submission of plans to address the unpaid merit bonuses and increments to government employees and retirees and her promised financial assistance to struggling businesses as a prerequisite for the measure's implementation.
As a result, DOA put off the implementation of the general pay plan until the conditions set by the law were met.
"As indicated by the governor in her signing letter dated March 31, 2023, under existing Guam, law the revised general pay plan became effective on April 1, 2023 and for those agencies and units with sufficient funding, compensation under these revisions was paid to their employees," Administration Director Edward Birns said.
Birns said the restrictions, which prevented the enactment of the law, specifically prevented cash allotments to agencies which were included in the appropriation of $16 million within the executive branch and to Guam Memorial Hospital, the Judiciary of Guam, University of Guam, Guam Community College and the Public Defender Service Corporation and Alternative Public Defender were similarly delayed.
The governor's office said individual agencies will now be responsible for paying the new rate adjustments to their employees
Birns said the administration intends to pay out all merit bonuses for the period Oct. 1, 2017 to April 20, 2023 by the end of May. The payout for all merit bonuses for the period Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2017 is contingent upon further legislative appropriations.
"With respect to pending salary increments, the administration intends to pay out all salary increments as they become due for the remainder of fiscal year 2023," Birns said.
"By law, salary increment payments are dependent upon the submission of satisfactory or higher employee performance evaluation reports. Department of Administration transmits reports of overdue performance evaluations to agency directors in order to ensure that employees who so qualify receive their increments in a timely manner," he added.
As for financial assistance to Guam businesses, Birns said this requirement will be satisfied by Bill 75-37, which appropriates $20 million from the American Rescue Plan Act funds.