How the state will pay for the teachers contract - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

How the state will pay for the teachers contract

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A 100-page document lays out the nuts and bolts of the tentative contract between the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. If it is ratified, the four-year deal goes into effect July 1.

"I think it's a good value and bargain for taxpayers and the state as a whole," Budget and Finance director Kalbert Young said.

The price tag is $333 million. To help pay for it the state will tap into money from revenue proposals and expenditure reductions before the legislature, like removing the sunset on the hotel room tax to make the current rate permanent.

"The difference of two percent in the TAT equals to about $100 million a year to the state," Young said.

He said $20 million a year could come from moderating the state's tax credit on photovoltaic systems, and the Council on Revenues increase in its recent forecast should make more money available.

"That translated to about $79 million in more anticipated revenue in this year, followed by about $115 million in more revenue for the next fiscal year, then $150 million dollars in the third year," he said.

The contract restores five percent cut from teachers pay in 2011. It also requires them to work three more days a year. Salaries increase in the first and third years by steps up a pay scale. In the second and fourth years, pay goes up 3.2 percent.

Teachers will pay less for their medical coverage, and have input into teacher evaluation policies.

"That's why you have a certification process where all the administrators will be trained a certain way to evaluate the teachers fairly," HSTA president Wil Okabe said.

If it's ratified, this will be the first time public school teachers have a four-year contract.

The state House Budget Committee chair says that poses a challenge.

"So what our concern is, we usually look at the biennium budget in two-year cycles. But now we have to worry about four years," Rep. Sylvia Luke said.

Young said the tentative deal is one component of what he calls a "balanced approach" to increase public service and support government workers.

"What the public gets for both qualitative and quantifiable results for teachers, I think it's a fair contract," he said.

Teachers will take a ratification vote on April 17.

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