By Troy Torres
'Use part of the $661 million you're getting to increase the pay of each essential worker on Guam by $13 an hour.' That's the message Congressman Michael San Nicolas is sending to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today.
The $661 million is direct aid funding for the government of Guam from the federal government authorized by the American Rescue Plan (the third stimulus). The money will be wired from the U.S. Treasury to GovGuam for use at the governor's discretion following Ms. Leon Guerrero's mandated certifications to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury on the uses of the funds.
Mr. San Nicolas said that increasing the pay of essential workers is one of the permissible uses of the funds.
In a previous iteration of the U.S. House's stimulus bills, the HEROES Act, an essential included almost anyone who had to work throughout the pandemic in order to provide life saving, or life sustaining needs. So, on top of people who worked in clinics, hospitals, care facilities, law enforcement, and schools, an essential worker included people such as grocery workers, store baggers, construction workers, caregivers, and more.
In this case, the local government would determine who an essential worker is.
The recently passed American Rescue Plan permits the estimated $660MM to Guam to also be used for up to $13/hour increase in pay for essential workers, a release from Mr. San Nicolas's office states.
"We have heard the calls for equity from our essential workers, and we're very pleased that the Senate enabled this provision for them to be eligible for additional pay," stated Congressman San Nicolas. "The local government must now take the steps necessary to make essential worker compensation happen, and we look forward to those who have been on the front-lines sustaining our economy, health, and safety finally receive the support they deserve."
The governor has signaled her intention to use $300 million of the funds to build a new hospital. She has made vague commitments to use the remainder of the funds to help small businesses and to give assistance to people.