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Gov’s office budget reveals high salaries, employees +

joy@samoanews.com

The high salaries of employees with the Office of the Governor in Hawai'i was one of the issues raised during the Governor’s Office Budget hearing yesterday before lawmakers, where Chief of Staff Fiu Johnny Saelua testified.
 
The issue on salaries was raised by Tualauta faipule Larry Sanitoa who noted that aside from the employees and the newly formed office in Manu’a, there are four additional employees added to the governor’s office in Hawai'i.
 
Sanitoa laid out the salaries during the hearing — for the Director, $55,000, Deputy Director $40,000, Office Manager $34,000, Special Assistant $30,000, Liaison Officer $28,000, Administrative Assistant $26,000 and Administrative Assistant I $28,000, with the secretary making $28,000.
 
Sanitoa questioned why there’s an additional four employees for the Hawai'i office. Fiu responded that given the increase in the number of requests for assistance from American Samoans off island, it called for additional employees, and it's all part of helping and assisting the people.
 
According to the budget, the governor’s office in Manu’a employs five people with salaries ranging from $45,000 for the Manu’a Liaison Officer with the Manu’a Office Manager making $40,000, Manu’a project Manager’s $32,000 with the secretary making $11,040 and $10,213 for the janitor.
 
The Proposed Budget for the Governor’s Office for FY 2014 is $6,952,500 which is increased from the FY 2013 amount of $6,378,500.
 
During the hearing Rep Fagasoaia Leaaitafea asked if all 124 employees with the governor’s office are working. Fiu in response noted there are 24 additional hires including those for the Manu’a Office, the Hawai’i office, the Fraud and Prevention Office and additional employees with the governor’s office, given their expertise is much needed.
 
Fagasoaia told Senator Laolagi Vaeao and Rep Timusa Tini Lam Yeun to look into this matter, given the fact that the governor’s office has employed people even though the proposed budget — which includes the salaries of the new hires — has yet to be approved by the Fono.
 
Laolagi said he will take it under consideration.
 
Rep Sanitoa asked how the new hires were paid and about the source of the funding.
 
Fiu explained there were 25 vacant positions within the governor’s office with funding allocated for the salaries of these positions and because the positions needed to be filled to carry out the governor’s mandate they moved to hire new employees. Funding also came from the recent $5 million supplemental, he said.
 
Rep Puleleiitea Tufele Li’amatua Jr asked Fiu to explain what is the difference between the Senior Policy Advisor and Senior Policy Advisor for Human Resources, yet there is a Department of Human Resources.
 
Fiu stated that the senior policy advisor works on creating and implementing policies in the governor’s office and the senior policy advisor for HR mandates for the governor’s office employees, given the high volume of employees.
 
Senator Magalei asked why the Lt Governor has an Executive Assistant and also a Special Assistant. The Chief of Staff said it was because the Lt Governor has certain responsibilities which he has been tasked with by the governor, and he needs all the assistance he can get with his numerous tasks and responsibilities.
 
Rep Florence Vaili Saulo asked why there’s an increase in salaries for some directors, while other director’s salaries did not receive a boost.
 
Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Laolagi intervened noting that salaries for directors are at the discretion of the governor and only he can answer that question.
 
The offices under the governor’s office are: the Manua’s Governor’s Office, Veteran Affairs, Insurance Commission, Medicaid, Vocational Rehabilitation Office and Historic Preservation Office.
 
BACKGROUND: MANDATES OF THE HAWAI'I OFFICE
 
Other mandated functions for the Hawai'i office are to:
 
•            provide assistance to all Armed Forces personnel in need of help from the state of Hawai’i, City and County of Honolulu or from the Red Cross in American Samoa for family emergencies which might require travel to the territory;
 
•            provide assistance to all American Samoan students attending colleges and university in Hawai’i and the mainland regarding their needs;
 
•            liaison with Hawaiian Airlines with regard to travel documents to ensure compliance with local immigration laws;
 
•            act as the center for the distribution of information on American Samoa, travel requirements into the territory, business opportunities available in American Samoa and distribution of tourism literature to promote the local tourism industry;
 
•            assist ASG directors in setting up appointments for meetings in Hawai’i for both government and businesses;
 
•            liaison with the Samoan community in Hawai’i to ensure that they work together to develop programs to improve the welfare of Samoans living in the Aloha State; and
 
•            perform other duties and responsibilities which the governor may assign from time to time, depending on emerging needs.
 
 



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