The following is news from the Office of Sen. Mary Camacho Torres:
Nurse salary increases in the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the Department of Public Health and Social Services, and the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center must be funded out of their respective agency budgets in Fiscal Year 2022, under amendments proffered by Senator Mary Camacho Torres today.
The amendments allocate from each agency’s current budget appropriations to fund adjustments in the Nurse Professional Pay Structure. Torres proffered the new language to the budget bill after lawmakers failed to appropriate funding from the $35 million set aside for the Healthcare Center of Excellence Facility last week.
Earlier this year, the Department of Administration advised that the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget provide funding for the annual costs of the 15% base salary increase. The request was ignored and agency levels for the health departments and education remained unchanged.
While the Office of Finance and Budget argued that agencies can absorb the costs out of their current levels due to vacancies, the office did not provide a list of all position titles they funded, whether vacancies submitted in April were already filled, and whether such positions are needed in the future.
“These amendments do not appropriate additional funding for the nurse pay increases in FY2022, as originally requested, but they at least mandate that a portion of the agency’s current budget be used to fund the adjustments,” said Senator Torres. “They also tell front-liners that we put our money where our mouths have been for the past year—ensuring that these long-awaited increases can continue and are not de-prioritized in FY22.”
The Body passed amendments for Public Health and Behavioral Health this morning and expect to deliberate the hospital and education department later.