The livelihood of GovGuam employees is at stake as the Guam Legislation deliberates on cutting salaries by rolling back the implementation of the Competitive Wage Act of 2014. Despite an abundance of public outcry to not impact the lives of GovGuam employees and the rescinding of Bill 244-34 by Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, the legislature can still introduce amendments to impact the pay of government employees. The financial crisis our government is experiencing as a result of the new federal tax code has put our elected leaders in this difficult situation. However, reducing the salaries of all GovGuam employees is not the answer.
Implementing such a drastic reduction of employee salaries will hurt recruitment and retention of good employees that have the institutional knowledge and expertise in providing quality public services to our island in education, safety, healthcare, and other areas in the government. Huge financial difficulties will arise with existing mortages, car loans, and medical expenses. Less money in pockets will put less money into businesses and circulating in our economy. This will only worsen the economic state of our island.
A better option would be to continue cost-cutting measures throughout the government. Many leaders of various agencies such as the Guam Department of Education, Guam Memorial Hospital, and Department of Public Works have come forth touting their accomplishments of cutting costs during the public testimony of Bills 244-34 and 245-34. Community members proferred ideas on how to further cut costs in the government without cutting the salaries of all GovGuam employees. Sanjay Sharma, President of GFT, stated, “In a time of fiscal crisis where the community is asked to bear the burden of raising the Business Privilege Tax (BPT) to 6% or cut the salary of government employees, government agencies are wasting over $14 million on renting space throughout the island and paying for the upkeep of the Governor’s House. There is still room to cut costs from the government without impacting the salaries of employees.” Our community must come together and find a better solution to help our government from this financial crisis. At this critical time, the burden should not be placed on the backs of our employees.