Second Regular Session of 37th Legislature ends with some final passages
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Second Regular Session of the 37th Legislature ended last Friday. However, a joint closing planned for last Friday did not take place, and each chamber had its own closing then a luncheon followed in the Senate Guest House.
Speaker of the House, Savali Talavou Ale thanked faipule for their diligent work during the 45 days of the session.
Vice Speaker of the House, Fetui Fetu Jr was given the honor of responding to the House Speaker’s speech and to thank him for his leadership. Fetui also congratulated Savali for his long service as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
FUTURE SALARY & ALLOWANCE INCREASES
During the final week of the session faipule made amendments to the Senate bill to increase the salaries of the Governor and Lt. Governor and office expenses allowances of the Fono by adding language to the bill.
The additional wording states, “$1 million from surplus funds of Fiscal Year 2019 and Fiscal Year 2020 shall be made available to the Legislature to fund the salary increases in FY2022. Funds shall be made available from the budgets of the Legislature and the Office of the Governor to fund salaries for succeeding fiscal years.
On Tuesday last week, the Budget and Appropriations Committee Rep Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi presented the added text during second reading of the bill. The bill was then presented to the House Chamber on Wednesday morning for third reading and was passed by a unanimous vote.
There were no questions asked or debate before the final vote and the bill was approved by a show of hands.
HOUSE PASSES SENATE BILL TO HIKE CONTRIBUTION FOR ASGERF
Last Wednesday, the House passed in final reading a Senate bill, which would raise the contributions from ASGERF members from 3% to 5% of their salary and for ASG as the employer from 8% to 11%. It’s now up to he governor to decide if contributions go up.
The bill, which has been languishing in committee in the House since March, would help reduce the unfunded liability of the Retirement Fund.
The Fund pays out more than $2 million per month in retirement annuities but collects just over $800,000 from contributions. The balance of $1.2 million is drawn from the Fund’s investment accounts.
When questioned by faipule at a hearing on the bill in March of this year, Treasurer Malemo Tausaga told the committee that ASG paid $5.9 million into the Retirement Fund in Fiscal Year 2020, while member contributions brought in $2.2 million.
For the 3% increase, he estimated that ASG would pay $8.2 million while members would pay $3.2 million. These numbers cover just the roughly 4,000 ASG employees and do not include authorities like LBJ Hospital, ASPA, ASTCA and ASCC.