'Sweet' event surrounding 'sour' issue - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

'Sweet' event surrounding 'sour' issue

Jo Curran Jo Curran
Senator Norman Sakamoto Senator Norman Sakamoto

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A "sweet" event surrounding an issue that's left a "sour" taste in the mouths of many people statewide.

Friday is the ninth furlough day for Hawaii's public schools.

With the legislative session in full swing, a few plans to end Furlough Fridays are on the table.

The groups "Save Our Schools" and "Hawaii Education Matters" held an event called "Cookies For Classrooms, A Bake Sale With An Attitude" at the Capitol.

They're urging education leaders to come together to reach an agreement immediately to keep schools open five days a week.

Each bag of cookies carries a message. It's a recipe hoping to satisfy student's hunger for education.

"As a group, we're not here to say that either one is right or not right, what we're here to say is that this is a problem that can be solved," Hawaii Education Matters co-founder Jo Curran said.

Next week, lawmakers will begin debating their ideas for funding Furlough Fridays.

They include a five cent beverage container surcharge for three years and fast-tracking a move to take $50-million from the Rainy Day Fund.

Senator Norman Sakamoto is behind two bills meant to work together.

For the short term, the state would take money from the hurricane relief fund and emergency and budget reserve fund.

"The hope is that we can restore five, six or seven days this school year," Senator Sakamoto said.

To take care of the rest of the days, the long-term bill taps into both those funds, federal money and increases the General Excise Tax by one percent.

To offset that, the average person would see more from income tax deductions and new tax credits for food.

"Let's cure the lack of instructional days now and continue to make many other improvements," Senator Sakamoto said.

But Governor Lingle's administration is standing by its idea, restoring 23 of the remaining 26 Furlough Fridays with $50-million from the state's Rainy Day Fund.

"The governor has made a very credible plan, we presented it before the Board of Education and it's really up to them to accept this plan and to join with us to go forward to the teacher's union," Governor Lingle's senior policy adviser Linda Smith said.

Whatever the plan, the teacher's union, Board of Education, Department of Education and the Governor will all have to agree.

Those talks are still ongoing as parents and students hope Furlough Fridays like today get bagged for good.

Lawmakers hope to have a plan settled before the end of this quarter. But each bill will have to go through several committees and full floor votes on both sides before even getting to the governor.

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