Three lawmakers said a portion of incoming federal relief funds should be used to give all of the island’s public nurses a raise. Nurses haven’t had an across-the-board pay increase since 2014.
The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law this month, gave $661 million to the government of Guam to help offset costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of this will be set aside toward the cost of building a new Guam Memorial Hospital.
Sens. Mary Torres, Amanda Shelton and Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes urged Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to use a portion of the federal money to fund Bill 61, which would give a temporary 15% pay increase to Guam’s public nurses.
“Now more than ever, our nurses — and the proposal to increase their salaries — should be treated as much of a priority as the set aside for tax refunds,” Torres said. “Paying our nurses what they deserve is not only an investment in the health and safety of our island, after this virus, it’s also the least we can do.”
Under Bill 61, all positions covered under the government of Guam Nurse Pay Plan would receive a 15% pay increase effective Oct. 1. The raise would remain in effect until GovGuam’s nurse compensation study is complete.
The study was funded by Torres’ office in a bill passed by the Legislature last year. Once the study is complete, all positions covered under the Nurse Pay Plan would be increased to the amount indicated under the study, the bill states.
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“In the meantime, an automatic increase proffered by (Bill 61) is a stopgap measure that will help make local nurses’ base salaries more competitive,” Torres’ office stated Sunday. “Nurses in the government of Guam are entitled to salary increments based on satisfactory performance and years of service. While we don’t know when every public nurse’s salary was last increased, the last time there was an across-the-board review of Nurse Pay Plan salaries was 2014.”
According to the bill’s fiscal note from the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, the increase would cost GovGuam about $3.3 million in personnel costs and cover more than 500 nurses.
According to Torres, Gov. Leon Guerrero expressed her commitment to finding a funding source for Bill 61.
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Adelup didn’t provide comment by 3 p.m. Sunday.