By Zahid Arab - bio | email
HONOLULU (KHNL) - A billion dollar budget gap the next two years and building. Hawaii's economic woes hit an all-time high. The budget situation is so severe, Governor Linda Lingle says a second round of state worker layoffs is likely. That's in addition to 1,100 she's already ordered in November.
On the eve of an arbitration hearing between the state and the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), Governor Lingle outlined more cost-saving measures to close the deficit. But, there's still no contract compromise with the union.
For months now, the fiscal friction between the state and it's worker's union has heated up from outside the state capitol to inside courtrooms.
"My administration remains resolute," said Governor Linda Lingle.
And on the web, with both sides tangled in give-and-take. Governor Lingle has her game plan.
"Proposals that are meaningful, realistic and address the immediate fiscal crisis," said Governor Lingle.
"Frankly, we're more interested in finding solutions than we are dealing with web casts," said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira.
If union executive director Randy Perreira seems a bit perturbed, it's because he says discussions with the state have been insufficient and broken.
"She has a one track mind that everything will come from labor savings," said Perreira.
Lingle says furloughs will be painful for some.
"Criticized by others and difficult for many," said Governor Lingle.
HGEA says a second round of layoffs is really no surprise. But, workers want a package of cost-saving measures not just furloughs like the ones they opted for starting October. Lingle says three days off a month the next two years would save nearly $700 million.
"There are other solutions that can and should be looked at," said Perreira.
Of the ideas tossed around, raising taxes and raiding the Hurricane Relief Fund. But, Lingle says dipping into that isn't enough cash and would only leave the fund depleted.