Torres proposes big pay raises for his cabinet and staff

Gov. Ralph Torres is proposing to use federal direct aid to give his closest aides more than three-quarters-of-a-million dollars in pay raises in total.

According to a budget year 2022 costing summary, the CNMI Commissioner of Public Safety, Robert Guerrero, will be getting a $21,000 pay raise come October 1. His colleague, Secretary of Finance David Atalig, Jr. will get a $30,000 pay raise. Another 68 members of the governor’s cabinet and staff will receive similar four- and five-digit pay raises.

The Secretary of Labor, Vicky Benavente, who has been widely criticized for her poor performance in getting unemployment money to its rightful recipients, is slated to receive an $11,174 pay raise. Robert Hunter, the governor’s senior policy advisor, will get a $10,174 pay raise. His wife, Armi Hunter, recently received a nearly $19,000 pay raise.

The governor’s spokesman and public information officer, Kevin Bautista, will be getting a $9,000 pay raise.

Fire commissioner Dennis Mendiola will be getting a $21,000 pay raise.

Yvette Sablan, the governor’s special assistant for substance abuse and rehabilitation, will be getting a $10,001 pay raise. Her brother recently was hired at the Governor’s Office.

You may view the full list of pay raises below.

Congressman Ed Propst said in a live stream today that the Democrats proposed to give each adult resident of the Commonwealth a $1,000 stimulus payment using the ARPA direct aid funds, of which Gov. Torres is in unilateral control of more than $500 million. Mr. Propst lamented the governor turned down the idea and is now spending the money on obligations for the few rather than the everyday people.

“Your government pisses away a lot of money each day on a lot of crap,” Mr. Propst said. “They act like it’s their own piggy bank. Yet when it comes to helping the regular people, all of a sudden it’s a bad idea to the Torres administration.”

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