This afternoon, Governor Calvo recorded a special address to GovGuam employees, retirees, and taxpayers to explain his opposition to the budget passed by the Legislative majority. You can view the address by clicking here. For your convenience, the text of the address follows:
Special Address to GovGuam Employees, Retirees, & Guam Taxpayers
By Eddie Baza Calvo
My fellow GovGuam workers, retirees & taxpayers,
Over the past two-and-a-half years, we sacrificed a lot together so that we could get our government to a good place. Together we paid tax refunds and made our people whole. Together we eliminated the deficit and got line agency vendors paid faster.
We finally got to a place where we could pay increments and merit bonuses for the first time ever. Before we came to office, merit bonuses were a figment of the politicians’ imagination. They were empty promises that we made a reality, just like the tax refunds. We’ll be paying something else that’s never been paid: promised compensation. We are able to do these things because we’ve been honest about finances and careful with spending. It’s because we were prudent and not political.
If we become political about these things, then we’ll be right back to where we were. We’ll have a deficit, and there won’t be money for the promises. There won’t be money for the pay raises, or the COLA, or the merit bonuses, or tax refunds. It’s easy for the legislative majority to promise the farm away on a piece of paper called a budget. It’s much harder to actually manage all those promises… especially when there are more promises than there is money to pay for them. We are practicing restraint because we are not out of the woods.
I don’t want to be a governor who lies to GovGuam workers and retirees. I don’t want to promise you full pay increases when there’s only enough money for a partial increase for now. I don’t want to promise you full restoration of COLA when there’s only enough money for a partial restoration. We just got out of a deficit. Yes, times are better and there’s going to be more money coming in. What we proposed is to increase pay and COLA based on what realistically will come in.
But what the legislative majority has done, instead, is falsely promise you even more. They know full well that there isn’t enough money in their budget to meet all their promises. They’re writing you bad checks. And what will they say when the money runs out and there’s not enough for your pay increases and COLA? Will they apologize to you? Will they give you their own money so you can feed your children, pay your rent, and make your car payment?
The budget process is not a game. It deals with your lives. There’s a lot of hot air and empty promises coming out of the legislature right now. Some of the senators are throwing promises around like Santa Claus at a parade. I am appealing to you – each and every GovGuam worker and retiree – to remember that it was our fiscal policies that finally got tax refunds, merit bonuses, increments, and so much more done. These payments were made because we were realistic and honest… despite year after year of empty promises and hot air from the legislative leadership. We have the record to back up what we say… and they have a record of deficits that robbed you of your pay.
This is what we can afford, and what I am proposing in a new budget: phased-in implementation of the Hay raises… an increase to the COLA to $1,500 annually… more than enough in the Provision for Tax Refunds… and enough funding for the operational needs of the public safety and health agencies.
Our plan is fiscally responsible and sustainable. It doesn’t leave out the mayors and their staff… and other unclassified employees who the legislature left out. It partially restores the COLA. And as for the merit bonuses for Judiciary and DOE? We’re finding a real solution with real revenues behind it… not a line of credit that’s just a phantom appropriation that looks good on paper only.
I want you to know you can count on us to do what we say… and to make good on our promises. That’s why I’ll never over-promise something to you. I’ll never make you an empty promise knowing we don’t have the money to back it up. The trust we have means something to Ray and to me… and to the senators willing to stand against GovGuam’s sordid history of empty promises. So far, those senators include Tony Ada, Aline Yamashita, Chris Duenas, Mike Limtiaco, Brant McCreadie, and Tommy Morrison… responsible public servants. I invite other senators to join in making this right for our employees, retirees, and the taxpayers of Guam.
Thank you, and God bless you all.