Torres: ‘It’s time’ for Cabinet salary hike

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres believes it is time to give salary raises to department chiefs due to their expansive duties and responsibilities.

Torres noted in a previous interview that he believes it is time to raise the salaries of his Cabinet members, while “deputies in other departments” make significantly more.

“I definitely believe that it is about time that they get a higher salary. They are the only position that was not given a raise. With all the responsibilities and duties the secretaries have, for sure, it’s about time that they get a salary increase,” he said.

According to Torres, Cabinet members make on average about $54,000 per annum, while “deputies in other departments” make about $50,000 to $90,000 per annum.

The House of Representatives passed last Feb. 27 Rep. John Paul Sablan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-35, HD2, with a vote of 15-3, that would give Cabinet officials up to 80-percent salary hikes.

Reps. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan), Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan), and minority leader Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) voted against the bill.

Sablan amended the bill to allow for the inclusion of the director of the new Office of Planning and Development, as well as to amend the Cabinet members’ salaries.

Rep. Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan), one of three who voted against H.B. 20-35, said in a statement that the total additional funding required to reflect the Cabinet member’s salary adjustments was significantly high.

“The total additional funds needed for the adjustment is $747,385 [per] year, assuming all the officials receive the maximum cap. We are looking at an approximate $10,000 average raise to an already significant pay level per annum per official,” said Vinson Sablan.

“These funds could go to pay adjustments of entry-level or mid-level employees who have been waiting years for adjustments. These are also funds that could be used to pay down [government] obligations. At the end of the day, it’s a question of where our priorities should be as a government,” he said, adding that he believes additional funding obtained through government revenues should go to government services for the public’s benefit.

The governor, during the same interview with Saipan Tribune, said that more priority would be placed on appropriating funding “the right way.”

“Everything that we do affects the fiscal funding. We have another bill…to turn the Northern Marianas Trades Institute into a department. That is also a budget constraint in terms of the whole calculation of revenue. That is another one of the priorities that we need to look into,” he said, commenting on the bill.

H.B. 20-35, HD2 now heads to the Senate for review and action.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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