Bill to hike salaries for Gov & LT along with allowances for fono still alive
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The House approved in third reading Thursday, with amendments, the Senate bill which seeks to increase the annual salaries of the governor and lieutenant governor and hike the office expense allowance for lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Senate approved Thursday in final reading the amended House version of an Administration bill seeking funds to purchase vehicles for the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The House amendments on the Senate bill to hike salaries of the governor and lieutenant governor and increase office allowance for lawmakers were submitted during second reading on Wednesday by House Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi and approved by faipule.
The original language of the bill states that the funding source is the surplus of fiscal year 2020 from un-budgeted, unexpended and un-obligated revenues of ASG.
The House amendments state that, $1 million from the surplus of FY 2019 and FY 2020 shall be made available to the Legislature to fund the salary increases in FY2022.
Additionally, funds shall be made available from the budgets of the Legislature and the Office of the Governor to fund salaries for succeeding fiscal years.
The Administration’s $12.65 million supplemental appropriation bill — already approved by the Fono — includes $1 million to the Legislature, with no explanation in the bill on how it’s to be used.
Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean informed senators that the $1 million will be used to pay for the salary increases of the governor and lieutenant governor as well as the hike in the office allowance for lawmakers.
ASG Budget Office director, Catherine Saelua confirmed during a House committee hearing that the funding was available for the legislation.
The bill goes back to the Senate today, and if senators disagree with the amendments, a conference committee will be called to iron out the final language of the legislation, which is effective immediately upon passage by the Fono and approval of the governor.
Today is the final day of the current Second Regular Session of the 37th Legislature.
The proposed law seeks and increase in the salary of the governor from $85,000 to $120,000 and the lieutenant governor from $75,000 to $100,000 annually.
Current law sets allowances for lawmakers at $40,000 each for the Fono leaders and $30,000 for members — and the Fono can raise the allowance for a current sitting Legislature. The Senate bill seeks to increase the allowance for the Fono leaders to $60,000 each for the Senate President and House Speaker and hike to $45,000 allowances for Fono members.
The Administration’s original bill seeks a total of $211,707.06 from the ASG Traffic Rehabilitation Account to purchase three police trucks at the total cost of $169,500; $32,207.06 for the purchased Harley Davidson Motorcycle including shipping; and $10,000 to purchase computers and printers for police substations.
However, the House amended its version of the bill, deleting the funds for computers and printers and amended the number of police trucks to be purchased from three to “four” for a total of “$222,500”.
The new total in the appropriation bill is $254,707.06 to DPS for the vehicles. As of Aug. 18th, the balance of the Traffic Rehabilitation Account was at $255,576.34.
The House amendment was based on a request by DPS officials during a House committee hearing.