You can view Governor Calvo’s Weekly Address by clicking on the link below. You can also read the full text in this message.
The Struggle: It’s Real.
By Eddie Baza Calvo
Every morning, more than 10,000 Guamanian families wake up, eat breakfast and get ready for the day in a house the government helps pay for. In many of these kitchens, there’s only one parent — one breadwinner — supporting a growing family the best they can.
Every day, these families and so many others, face the daily burden of making $500.00 last through the week. With the cost of living at its current state, this income is just barely enough to put nutritious food on the table and pay the utility bills. There’s little left over to take the kids to a new movie, buy a new pair of shoes or even put some aside in a college savings account.
This is the reality we face. Two-thirds of public school students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. That means they come from families in poverty. You can imagine that at home, these children have little toys to play with, and even less hope to hold on to for a better future.
This is the state of poverty on Guam — a challenge facing those who struggle to break free of the cycle, and one of this generation’s most important calls to action. The research on this cycle is voluminous, the facts are undeniable and the solutions often bring more divisive debate than necessary.
But I believe the only question we must address in this important debate is what we’re willing to do to improve the overall quality of life in our community.
The conversation being heard throughout our island today is centered around raising the minimum wage. Senator BJ Cruz has introduced legislation that could put a couple more dollars in the hands of minimum wage earners. In the spirit of collaboration and cooperation, our Republican colleagues introduced companion legislation to ease the burden on businesses that will have increased personnel costs to accommodate an increase in wages. This is a balanced approach with support on both sides of the aisle.
It’s a good proposal that even led to one of the only collaborations across the aisle this year. Our entire community has gotten involved and I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the discussion. It shows that people are interested, engaged and involved.
And while I continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature and our private sector partners, we must not forget that raising the minimum wage isn’t a magic wand. Poverty can’t be solved by more money alone, nor can it be solved overnight. If we want to break the cycle, we’ve got to look beyond the bottom line and start creating more opportunities.
Our solutions need to be focused on making sure our people know that minimum wage jobs should only be steppingstones toward more fulfilling careers. We want our fellow Guamanians to hone their skills, build on their strengths and become the next success story in a profession of their choosing.
A community that thrives is fueled from within — by hardworking people chasing their dreams and achieving their goals. Let’s shift the focus of this discussion from increasing minimum wage to improving our quality of life.