Governor says layoffs may be necessary

Governor Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle
Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Mayor Mufi Hannemann

By Paul Drewes bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Governor says she's running out of time to come up with a solution to our budget crisis that doesn't include laying off thousands of state employees.

But she is holding out hope, unions and the State will soon reach an agreement.

The clock is ticking down for labor negotiations between the State and unions representing thousands of Hawaii workers.

"I've tried to avoid laying off employees but each month our deficit gets more and more difficult to fill cause we have fewer months to have savings", said Governor Lingle.

Even though a judge ruled against the Governor's furlough plan, the State will be talking about temporary time off for employees at a meeting on Monday with two unions. But as a backup, the governor is also working on an important list.

"We're working on developing a list of people that would be laid off if we're not able to reach some agreement on our furlough plan", said Lingle.

But while the Governor feels furloughs are the best option -- the Mayor of Honolulu has come up with a different plan for employees, in contract talks with labor unions.

"This year we were able to balance our budget without furloughs, but next year that may be a part of how we balance our budget", said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

A move that may make the contract talks more complex this week.

Lingle says "the Mayors have muddied the waters and made the negotiations more difficult for the State than they need to be".

Negotiations will resume on Monday but the state is already making contingency plans in this battle over our budget.

"We don't want to upset people but we want to be realistic - we will wait to see what happens on Monday, said Lingle.

That meeting, Monday morning, is between the State and the United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employees Association unions.