Guam Legislature Fails To Override Governor Veto Of Salary Raise Bill

Lawmakers fall one vote short of repealing wage hikes for elected leaders

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 27, 2017) – In a 9-5 vote, lawmakers on Thursday were one vote shy to override the governor’s veto on legislation to repeal the controversial raises elected leaders received in late 2014.

After the legislative body passed Bill 4-34 in a 10-5 vote last month, Gov. Eddie Calvo vetoed the measure, citing concerns that reducing his pay would negatively impact the salaries of his Cabinet appointees.

With a minimum of 10 votes needed to override a gubernatorial veto, proponents of the measure Thursday failed to lock up that 10th vote, as Sens. Tom Ada, Tommy Morrison, Wil Castro, Fernando Esteves and Louise Muna held their position against the bill. Sen. Telena Nelson, who has been off-island attending military training, was absent from this week’s session.

Bill 4 intends reduce the salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor and senators by removing them from the from the Competitive Wage Act, GovGuam’s compensation adjustment plan. The removal would reduce Calvo’s pay to $90,000 and Lt. Gov. Tenorio’s pay to $85,000. Senators would go back to earning roughly $55,0000 a year, except for Speaker Benjamin Cruz, who would take home nearly $61,000.

With Nelson absent this week, Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., the bill’s author, had hoped to sway one of the opposing votes by addressing a concern Gov. Calvo raised in his veto message regarding Cabinet appointees’ salaries.

Local law prohibits a director from making more than the governor, and a deputy from earning more than the lieutenant governor. A provision in the law, however, states that the rule doesn’t apply if the salaries of directors and deputy directors are specifically set out in law.

Earlier in the week, Aguon cited a letter from Attorney General Elizabeth Barrettt-Anderson in which she stated that Bill 4’s enactment wouldn’t require the Cabinet members’ salaries to reduce as their pay was set by statute under the Wage Act.

“In our opinion, therefore, the enactment into law of Bill 4-34, which inter alia, reduces the annual salary levels of the governor and lieutenant governor, would not affect directors’ and deputy directors’ salary levels that were set out in PL 32-208,” Barrett-Anderson wrote.

Sen. Aguon intends to attempt another override vote during a later session, according to his office.

Lawmakers concluded this week’s session by also voting on a handful of other measures including Sen. Muna’s pair of measures to prohibit health insurance companies from discontinuing coverage of prostate, cervical and colorectal screenings should Congress repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Both of Muna’s measures, Bills 1-34 and 2-34, were passed unanimously by the legislative body.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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