Governor failed to include GDOE in initial pay raise funding request

Chris Duenas

Adelup lying about Chris Duenas’s support of raises

Senators were surprised Thursday to discover Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s original pay raise proposal had failed to include about $7 million in funding needed to include General Pay Plan employees of the Guam Department of Education. The republican leader of the legislature, Sen. Frank Blas, Jr., raised concerns the new proposal has a substantially higher price tag – about $24 million for this fiscal year alone and nearly $50 million for next year – than the $16 million the governor initially told senators she needed.

“We want the raises to happen for the employees,” Sen. Chris Duenas said, “but we don’t want to leave out the DOE employees, and I don’t think it’s right that people making six figures will get a 22 percent pay raise.”

That was another detail senators discovered, to their chagrin, at a meeting of the legislative Committee on Rules, chaired by Sen. Chris Barnett.

Adelup and a faction of the Democratic Party of Guam have been making false statements about Mr. Duenas’s stance on the pay raises, saying the senator opposes them.

“That’s a lie,” Mr. Duenas told Kandit in an in-studio interview Friday. “I support the 22 percent pay raise for the rank and file employees. What I don’t support is giving a $22,000 pay raise to someone making $100,000.”

The senator said Mr. Barnett’s meeting revealed droves of high-paid General Pay Plan members in the executive branch would be entitled to the same 22 percent pay raise as public employees making only $22,000 a year. Under such a scenario, someone with an annual gross salary of $22,000 would get a $4,840 annual pay raise, while an employee currently paid $100,000 a year will get a pay raise “that’s equivalent to an entire salary for a new employee,” the senator said.

“How can this be truly about recruitment if the lower-paid employees are getting nothing compared to the six-figure employees,” the senator said.

The solution he said he and other senators will be considering is either to cut out six-figure employees from the raises, or to establish a sliding scale that reduces the percentage increase the higher the pay bracket in the six-figure categories.

“We can save millions by doing this, and send those millions to where it’s needed most: the schools,” Mr. Duenas said.

The conservative senator from Tamuning questioned Adelup’s priorities and motives as the administration pushes pay raises for six-figure employees while remaining silent on “the schools that are falling apart at the seams.”

As for the administration’s attacks on Mr. Duenas, Sen. Blas called out the governor for, again, failing to be transparent with both the public and the legislature.

“Of concern to Senator Duenas and the other Republican members of the 37th Guam Legislature’s Rules Committee was the lack of transparency and blatant attempt to place a bill that was substantially costlier and different than what was introduced and discussed in the bill’s public hearing,” Mr. Blas said in a news release Thursday evening.

“It’s sad that they originally left out the cost for GDOE when they told us $16 million, because they based their whole argument on the need to hire DOE employees in order to repair schools,” Mr. Duenas said. “We republicans are not going to leave out the schools.”

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