Lawmakers say their hands are tied on furlough day debacle - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers say their hands are tied on furlough day debacle

House Finance Chair, Marcus Oshiro House Finance Chair, Marcus Oshiro
Governor Linda Lingle Governor Linda Lingle
BOE Chairman Garrett Toguchi BOE Chairman Garrett Toguchi

By Holly Juscen – bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers were scheduled to make an $86 million dollar decision Thursday afternoon at the state capitol, but after an hour of testimony about ending furlough fridays -- they simply voted not to vote.

Instead, they debated over a demand by the Governor Linda Lingle that some interpret as political blackmail, "At this point she is saying it's my way of the highway. Either get my constitutional amendment to empower me to appoint the superintendent or you get no money from the Hurricane fund or the rainy day fund to end furlough days," said House Finance Chair, Marcus Oshiro.

Oshiro says the governor is giving the legislature no choice. Lingle says she won't released funds to end furlough fridays unless the house and senate give her the power to pick the schools superintendent, " she's arm twisting, that's heavy-handed politics, especially when there is not connection between furlough fridays and a constitutional amendment that has to go to the voters." Said Oshiro

The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Board of Education agree the two issues are separate and say the Governor should not have the power to appoint the superintendent, "We don't want to play politics with education, our job it to provide education, the governors job is to provide funding, we don't want to use students as pawns in a political match," said Garrett Toguchi, Board of Education Chairman.

Thursday's hearing on the bill lasted one hour. The senate bill calls for $86 million dollars in Hurricane Relief funds to be used to end furlough days, yet the house deferred taking any action. Regardless, Toguchi is hopeful, " Come December we will have a new governor in place so if the legislature will pass this bill and provide the money and the governor veto's it -- then the new governor can release the money when they get in office."

Lawmakers say they will wait for the HSTA members to vote on their $92 million dollar supplemental agreement on next Wednesday before moving forward with the funding bill.

 

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