Senators set to cash out leave in December if Calvo bill doesn’t pass
September 18, 2012
Governor Calvo understands why the legislative leadership may be apprehensive about removing the benefits they receive through the cash out of annual leave.
“This is something they’ve been expecting to get at the end of this year, so I understand why they’re so critical about this,” Governor Calvo said.
On December 31, 2012 — just three months away — senators and legislative staffers will be able to cash out their accrued annual leave, up to 320 hours per person. If the Governor’s spending cuts bill passes into law, senators will no longer be able to do this. Only employees who retire will be eligible for the annual leave cash out under the Governor’s plan.
If the Governor’s bill does not pass, then its main critics in the legislative leadership will each cash out up to nearly $10,000 from taxpayers that would have otherwise gone to pay tax refunds. If senators pass the Governor’s bill, the estimated total annual savings from the removal of the cash out entitlement from senators and other unclassified employees is about $1.6 million.
But this bill doesn’t only affect the legislature. It also will affect the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, senior staff, Cabinet, and other unclassified employees in the Executive Branch. Under the Governor’s bill, even he and his administration officials will not be able to cash out their accrued annual leave at the end of the term.
“I know this is a sacrifice, but we have to lead by example,” Governor Calvo said. “That’s why we took a pay cut ourselves last year and it’s why we continue earning less pay. I wish the legislative leadership will soon realize that in order to have enough money for tax refunds and critical services, we need to cut spending elsewhere. I don’t consider using taxpayer funds for a personal cash-out of leave for elected officials a critical priority at all.”
The Governor is concerned the legislative leadership is attacking the leave provisions of his bill by providing misinformation to nurses and teachers to cover up agitation over the annual leave change.
“We need to cut spending to get us out of the mess that the past three budgets got us into,” Governor Calvo said. “I ask the legislative leadership to make the sacrifice many in both the government and the private sector are facing.”
Information from last night’s hearing on spending cuts bill
The legislature began a series of hearings on the Governor’s spending cuts bill last night, where the annual leave provision was discussed, along with other provisions in the bill. Below you will find information recorded from the hearing:
5:50 p.m.
Vice Speaker BJ Cruz has called the first hearing on the Governor’s spending cuts bill to order. Several senators are present. Human resources managers from throughout the government now are discussing the maternity leave provision in the Governor’s bill.
The Governor’s provision for maternity leave makes it easier for mothers to take leave, and even makes the provision more liberal.
Sen. Respicio tried to make a point that he believes the Governor’s bill reduces maternity leave. The HR manager from Guam Community College says that is not so. She recommends more clear language in the bill.
“We hang our hat on every single word in these documents,” Sen. Respicio said.
“Don’t you believe this takes away the 20 days for mothers?” Sen. Respicio said to the HR manager at GCC.
“No. That’s not what I stated. That’s not what it does,” the GCC HR manager replied.
5:57 p.m.
The government’s HR managers and senators now are discussing that the Governor’s bill makes maternity leave more liberal than paternity leave.
This is true.
“Is there an EEOC concern? And how would you interpret the provisions that say no more than six months or three months?” Vice Speaker Cruz asked CSC director Tony Lamorena, after the DOE HR manager suggested her interpretation of the law is that disciplinary action would be taken if a parent took more than six months of leave.
Lamorena responded that is not so. “My understanding in the (federal) Family Medical Leave Act, I believe the employee has up to a year. If they exhaust their leave, they have up to a year to return to their position. Now, they may not be paid, but the position will remain,” CSC director Tony Lamorena replied.
“FMLA gives 20 days for maternity leave, and 10 days for paternity leave. This bill is consistent with the federal law,” Lamorena added.
6:10 p.m.
Senators are now discussing the provision in the Governor’s spending cuts bill that broadens the application of maternity leave.  They are questioning why we want to make it easier for mothers to take maternity leave.
“We wanted to make it better for mothers when they take maternity leave, it’s that simple,” Governor Calvo said. “If senators want to change this provision, they certainly have the authority to do so, but it would not be very compassionate.” 
6:32 p.m.
Senators now have moved on to the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the ability of senators, the Governor & Lt. Governor, the Cabinet, and unclassified employees to cash out accrued annual leave. This provision, if enacted, will allow retiring employees to cash out their lump sum.
“We are spending a lot of money every year on lump sum leave. There are a lot of employees who would resign and then come back just so they can cash out their leave. This is basically to control, to manage the cash,” Director of Administration Benita Manglona said.
Manglona clarifies that this practice happened in the past. Who this bill essentially affects are elected officials and high-level legislature and Cabinet officials.
“This is about leadership,” Governor Calvo said. “If we’re going to cut, we’d better set the example. I took a pay cut, and so did the Lieutenant Governor and our senior staff. The next step is to end the practice of cashing out annual leave.”
7:08 p.m.
Sen. Respicio has asked the assembled HR managers whether it would be prudent to stop discussions on the spending cuts bill until ‘deficiencies’ can be corrected.
“If you claim it as a deficiency, then it’s something that can be fixed now,” Dir. of Administration Benita Manglona said.
“If we fix it in this forum, then it’s the legislature that will be tagged with this bill,” Sen. Respicio replied.
The administration fervently believes the legislature must act on the spending cuts bill now and not wait. These spending cuts are needed to fully fund tax refunds. Delaying the cut in spending further delays the ability of the government to make good on tax refunds.
It was around this time last year when the Rules Chairman did say he’d rather “owe the people, than owe the bank,” in reference to his opposition to the Governor’s original plan to fully fund all tax refunds up to Tax Year 2011.
Manglona questioned why senators and the administration could not use this current roundtable to make changes to the bill if the legislature believes changes should be made.
“If this is a working session, then why don’t we work together?” Manglona said. “Isn’t this why we’re here? We’re supposed to work together.”
“You’re not being cautious. You’re being reckless,” Sen. Respicio said.
“This is why we’re here to cut spending to pay tax refunds. Right now we’re trying to match cash receipts with cash disbursements. Right now they don’t match,” Manglona replied.
Please call Natalie Quinata at 488-6013 or Phillip Leon Guerrero at 929-7467.

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