Guam Governor Must Address Illegal Retroactive Raises

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Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Feb. 19, 2016) – Whether Adelup staffers deserved raises isn’t the issue with the governor’s decision to give retroactive bonuses to more than 100 unclassified employees.

Bonuses for unclassified political hires are illegal, according to Guam law, as are retroactive pay raises, unless specifically authorized by law. Gov. Eddie Calvo is within his authority to give raises to his staff, but he can’t give bonuses or retroactive raises. Thus, his administration’s decision to pay more than $800,000 in retroactive bonuses must be addressed. All staffers who received the lump-sum payments must pay back the money, which came from taxpayers.

The retroactive pay raises for 107 executive branch employees were given in December 2014. The attorney general said the raises were illegal and could "only be resolved through repayment of the retroactive pay adjustments by each individual employee, or through legislative action."

Calvo this week did the right thing by telling former Adelup staffers they must repay the retroactive pay raises they received in December 2014. However, all current Adelup staffers who received the lump-sum checks also should be made to repay the raises.

The lump-sum payments should never have been paid. Calvo must make some tough decisions with his administration. He does have options to fix this problem.

The governor could reduce salaries at Adelup for one year, which would equal the amount of retroactive raises that employees received.

Calvo could cut $1 million out of the governor’s office budget to cover the lump-sum payments.

Or a combination of both.

The governor has a duty to this community to fix this problem the right way, and to ensure that all of the money used for the illegal lump-sum payments, be it retroactive raises or bonuses, is returned to taxpayers.

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