On Friday, March 24, 2023, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) introduced Bill 24-37, legislation that requests a 22% pay raise for Guam’s government workers. The bill was passed by the Guam legislature after multiple special session callings throughout the week. The passing of the bill required the Guam legislature to approve $21 million for the 22% government worker pay raise, which will begin on April 1, 2023.
Earlier that week, Bill 24-37 was not scheduled for a session in the month of March 2023, leading to multiple calls being made for a special session set for Monday, March 21, 2023.
Originally scheduled for this time slot was an emergency session for multiple repair bills for the Guam Department of Education, though it was disrupted for the special session regarding government pay raises.
Lawmakers then attempted to move the special session to the next day, Tuesday, March 22, 2023, at 2:00 pm, but the governor called for the special session once again on Monday. Once again, the special session was moved to Tuesday, and the governor called for another special session for that day, though the public school repair session had already begun during that scheduled time.
This back-and-forth process of calling for special sessions and adjourning them to the next day continued twice more, resulting in a total of four special sessions called by the governor in one day.
During the special session held on Thursday, March 23, 2023, the dispute regarding Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s Bill 24-37 shifted its focus from government pay raises to unpaid merit bonuses. This shift was sparked by the mentioning of government worker merit bonuses being unpaid for the past 11 years and a total of $6 million still owed in them. According to the director of the Department of Administration, Edward Birn, the governor plans to pay the merit bonuses left unpaid during her administration. Before approving the pay raise bill, it was modified to feature subsidies to other organizations, including the University of Guam, Guam Community College, Judiciary of Guam, Mayor’s Council of Guam, and the Public Defender Service Corp.