Lingle unveils furlough plan

Governor Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Governor Linda Lingle's furlough plan is unveiled and government employees will pay the price.

Beginning in July, the majority of state departments will close three Fridays each month. For the average worker, that means up to $15,000 less income each year.

Employees have seen it coming since May when the state learned it was an unprecedented $2.7 billion in the hole. But, as details of the furlough plan are revealed, it's impact becomes reality.

At the state capitol, on floor five, is where Governor Linda Lingle unveils the "F" word.

"Furloughs will help us to realize $688 million," said Governor Linda Lingle.

That's what's left of the shortfall, the state has already come up with $2 billon of the money. Nearly 70% of Hawaii's operating budget, state workers must bear the rest of the brunt.

"This is not something I want to do, it's something I have to do," said Lingle.

State departments will stagger their furloughs to keep state services functional. Some will stay open longer the rest of the week, but others like airports, Aloha Stadium and the Highways Division will maintain current hours.

"This is temporary, this is something we will recover from, but need to make adjustments now," said Lingle.

Lingle remains committed to no layoffs, but if a court rules she doesn't have the authority to implement furloughs she may have no choice.

"We will have to have mandatory layoffs and program reductions across the government," said Lingle.

But there's optimism. Three of the four unions have filed court complaints, but not injunctions. State worker contracts expire June 30th, but there's hope for compromise before that. From the capitol to communities across Hawaii, the governor says these actions now will put the entire state on the road the economic recovery.

If courts rule Lingle's furloughs aren't legal, she'll be forced to do layoffs. She has the authority over 2,500 jobs, but it's up to entities like the Department of Education, University of Hawaii and Office of Hawaiian Affairs to determine if they want to choose that same cost-cutting measure.

The detailed furlough plan and calendar can be seen at