By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Torres: Tap EITC for nurses pay hike
Sen. Mary Camacho Torres said she will amend the substitute budget bill to secure a competitive compensation rate for our local nurse force in fiscal 2022.
Earlier this year, Torres wrote to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero proposing the federal government’s full reimbursement of the earned income tax credit (EITC) as a funding source for nurse pay increases. Consistent with her recommendation, she will utilize the EITC in her amendments to the FY22 budget.
In a letter to budget chairman Sen. Joe S. San Agustin, Torres indicated her intent to ensure agencies are equipped to fund the increases our nurses rightfully deserve.
While Leon Guerrero had approved a 15 percent increase in base salary with differential pay ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent in June, the Department of Administration emphasized that the fiscal impact must be incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2022 and subsequent budgets.
“Upon review of the substitute version of Bill No. 55-36 and confirmation with your office, I have learned that the nurse pay increases have not, in fact, been contemplated in the current form of the budget bill,” Torres said.
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In its analysis, the DOA estimated annual costs at approximately $4.4 million across Public Health, the Guam Memorial Hospital, Guam Behavioral Health, and the Department of Education.
“Mr. chairman, I know you can agree that paying our nurses what they deserve is not only an investment in the health and safety of our island—in the midst of this pandemic, it’s also the least we can do,” Torres told San Agustin. “Given our work together and your consistent advocacy for Guam’s front liners, I am hopeful of your support as I proffer these amendments in the upcoming session.”