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UOG caves to pressure, pushes tuition increase back without commitment to cutting spending

By Johnnie Rosario

Guam’s richest public official - multimillionaire University of Guam president Thomas Krise - also is the second-highest paid public official on island, grossing $210,000 annually, according to his contract.

He’s also the guy who was pushing for a UOG tuition increase in August. Mr. Krise told senators the revenue generated from the additional tuition will help pay UOG salaries.

You know what else it will pay? His $2,000 a month housing allowance.

And his $500 a month car allowance.

Mr. Krise is paid nearly 250 percent more (someone please do the math for Sen. Taitague) than Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who isn’t paid any allowance; granted she does have Government House and she is chauffeured by cops. The point is, he’s not the governor. And if the university is falling on some hard times, as its communications chief Jonas Macapinlac has said, then before trying to stick it to students, Krise and his cronies can be a bit more frugal with tax money.

Maybe he can follow Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio’s lead, who with an annual $85,000 salary earns what Krise is paid at a discount of 60 percent (just give Telo the calculator and tell her what to punch in). Unlike Krise, Tenorio doesn’t get any allowance, and he’s continued to do his work while reducing his staff count and forbidding pay raises. Probably the biggest difference has been over the past year. As the lieutenant governor and his boss and their staffs have worked around the clock on the public health emergency, Krise and his faculty got a vacation from face-to-face instruction with students. And let’s be real: in general, UOG’s elite endured far less than public school teachers throughout this time.

Which cake maxim works best here?

Does Krise want to have his cake and eat it, too?

Or is he saying we should just eat cake?

Perhaps we can wax philosophical in a pandemic-closed empty UOG classroom, free of tawdry liberal arts professors, who all got paid ridiculous sums of money during the public health emergency that kept students unemployed and out of the classroom.

But, sure, let’s stick the bill with them, right? Thankfully, Krise has changed his mind, but it took a bit of convincing. It was Speaker Therese Terlaje, who first challenged the tuition proposal. Then the media jumped in. Then the Guam Youth Congress. Where are the rest of our leaders on this issue?

The tuition increase may have been held in abeyance until 2023, but the reasons UOG gave should be alarming to senators, who are considering their budget again this year.

According to Macapinlac, who is paid more than Lt. Gov. Tenorio and just a grand shy of Gov. Leon Guerrero, UOG can avoid a tuition increase this year because they’re able to use federal funds to cushion revenue losses.

What we didn’t hear in that statement was UOG’s commitment to rightsize and cut costs. We’ve heard nothing about the outrageous salaries and the disproportionate number of full time faculty to adjunct professors. No one in leadership seems to care that several top university officials used government-issued credit cards to go on spending sprees at Macy’s, Ross, and the Beng Teng Spa.

Its habit of runaway spending outside the public eye should not be rewarded by senators with a preclusion from oversight. Scrutiny and accountability must prevail. Will someone demand sacrifice and savings from UOG’s leadership and untouchable faculty union? Can someone, other than Telo Taitague, subtract the excesses from their budget?

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