HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) - Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) unveiled her plan this afternoon, to close the state's 650 million dollar budget gap, and the good news is no layoffs, no increase in taxes, and minimal cuts to essential services.
About half the money will come from the federal stimulus package and the governor is also looking to transfer tax revenues to the general fund, but we're not out of the woods just yet. State workers will feel the impact of the new budget proposal.
Most significant are cuts that affect state employees' benefits. The proposal looks to increase employee premiums on their health benefits plan. This would save the state $96 million. And another measure is eliminating employer-funded group life insurance for state employees. It would save $8.4 million.
"This plan recognized reality and deals with it," said Gov. Lingle. "These are not cuts, changes or adjustments we want to make, but those we have to make to maintain our fiscal stability now and in the long term."
"This is an opportunity for us to really band together and get our most creative juices flowing to figure out how we are going to improve and continue to provide necessary services to our most vulnerable populations despite the fact we are not going to have the same amount of money we've had the last decade," said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health.
The governor says these are necessary steps to balance the state budget. If she wasn't able to close the gap, she would've had to lay off ninety one hundred state employees.
This budget isn't a done deal just yet. Some of the proposals rely on bills that need lawmakers' support.