Faipule vote to further increase the salaries of the Gov and Lt. Gov
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After making major amendments, the House last Thursday approved — through a majority vote — an Administration bill which increases the salaries of the governor and lieutenant governor with an early effective date — instead of January 2021.
The House version of the bill was introduced in the Senate last Friday.
Current law has the governor’s salary at $85,000 and the lieutenant governor at $75,000. The Administration bill hikes the governor’s salary to $100,000 and the lt. governor to $85,000.
However, the House approved version hikes the salaries more, with the governor up to $120,000 and the lt. governor at $100,000.
Under current law, a former governor shall be entitled, for the remainder of his life, to receive from ASG a monetary allowance at the rate per annum of “60%” of his highest salary during his last year in office. The Administration sought to reduce it down to 55%, but the House changed it back to “60%”.
Local law doesn’t provide an allowance for the governor’s spouse, but the Administration bill seeks to set by law, an allowance for the governor’s spouse, which is 25% of the governor’s salary. It also states that the spouse allowance — among other things — starts “on the day the governor takes office.”
However, the House amended the bill to state that the allowance commences “at the end of the governor’s term”.
The House also deleted from the original version of the bill, that this allowance shall be available to spouses of all former governors beginning Jan. 3, 2021.
Current law provides an allowance for surviving spouses of former governors. The Administration bill seeks to repeal this provision of the law but the House version kept the provision intact.
Samoa News should point out that the Administration’s bill seeks to give an allowance to the governor’ wife to help her meet her duties of “First Lady” — not “former First Lady”. Gov. Lolo notes in his cover letter of the Admin’s bill that the “first spouse performs important duties of diplomacy and public policy on behalf of the territory, and it is therefore reasonable that he or she should receive an allowance for fulfilling these responsibilities.”
The original version of the Administration bill has an effective date of Jan. 3, 2021 — which is when the new Administration takes office. But the House amended this provision of the bill to reflect an “early effective date”, upon passage by the Fono and approval by the governor.
The Senate version of the bill is tabled at this time, with plans to take it up next January.
It should be known later this week whether this Administration bill will be included in the special session of the Fono, set to convene on Oct. 3-17.
The governor sent out late last week his special session call. Issues on the agenda include pending legislation from the current session which ends Oct. 2nd.