Guam Legislature Should Once Again Be A Part-Time Body

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Editorial

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 9, 2015) – The Guam Legislature needs to once again become a part-time body that focuses on its core Organic Act responsibilities: passing the government of Guam budget; confirming executive branch nominations; and writing and voting on legislation.

Right now, senators spend too much time on other "priorities" such as passing meaningless resolutions, going to funerals, rosaries and community events — basically, their "work" mostly involves getting re-elected.

This year, the Legislature had a budget of more than $7.7 million. Senators make $85,000 a year. The legislative majority shared $1.86 million for Democrats’ annual budget. The minority shared $769,554. And central operations had a budget of more than $2.9 million. A nice gig if you can get it, and keep it.

So instead of making the hard decisions needed for the government to live within its means while also providing critical and core services, lawmaker cater to groups that will get them re-elected, namely government of Guam employees and their families, and GovGuam retirees.

Sen. Brant McCreadie recently introduced a bill that would allow voters to make senators part-time employees who will work 30 hours a week and earn $35,000 a year. He says it will save taxpayers $1 million a year.

It’s a good idea, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Senators should be part-time, but should only meet for session twice a year. They’ll get paid $50 a day to attend session. This would allow them to focus on their core duties and responsibilities.

And their budgets for office and staff need to be drastically reduced. Working part-time, they won’t need a full-time staff or year-round office space. Most of the daily, routine work can be done by the staff of the central office.

These changes would make senators once again public servants, instead of overpaid public employees.

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