By Nancy I. Maanao
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero intends to furlough 80 public health employees, according to the speaker's office.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, in a statement explaining her reason for voting no to the override of the governor's veto of the budget bill, said "I voted against overriding the Governor’s veto today because over the last few days, it was brought to my attention that eighty individuals from the Department of Public Health and Social Services will be furloughed – in the middle of a Public Health Emergency."
Kandit contacted the government of Guam's human resources administrator, Shane Ngata, who said his office has not received any direction from the Governor's Office to begin any furlough. Any furlough or layoff effort within the executive agencies would be carried out by Mr. Ngata's office.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes's policy officer, Chirag Bhojwani, confirmed that the plan to furlough 80 public health employees was conveyed by Ms. Leon Guerrero's chief of staff Jon Junior Calvo and policy director Carlo Branch to Ms. Muna Barnes.
The speaker did not disclose what Adelup had told her during budget deliberations to her fellow senators. During debate on the governor's budget bill yesterday, which was defeated by senators, Ms. Muna Barnes did ask the governor's fiscal officers what positions would be unfunded if the Legislature did not increase budgeted funding to Medicaid.
A furlough targeting public health employees would indicate an unwillingness by the governor to provide lapses to public health, or to transfer money to the agency. The governor has the ability in the newly-passed budget to move up to $27 million to the agency.
Senators passed the budget the governor vetoed when they overrode her veto before 3 p.m. today in an emergency session called by the speaker.
Adelup is working on a response to this news.