HGEA says the state could still furlough workers to make up lost revenue

Updated: May. 30, 2020 at 4:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The head of the state’s largest public employee union said that Gov. David Ige’s administration is still considering furloughs for state workers.

“At this point, they are now suggesting that furloughs of up to three years would be necessary, potentially 40 percent in the first year -- which would be two days a week -- and then 20 (percent) and 20 (percent) in the next years,” said Randy Perreira, the HGEA’s executive director.

“The talk of furloughs is nothing but demoralizing for our workers and workforce.”

Perreira said furloughs will not only cause financial hardship for the state’s 73,000 workers and their families but they will hurt the economy.

“It would put people into poverty. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can afford a 40 percent cut," he said.

“Government should be stepping up and spending money, bolstering the community and keeping people working.”

Governor Ige said today that furloughs -- and even layoffs -- are not off the table.

“We’re required to have a balanced budget, and the Council on Revenues is projecting a significant shortfall," the governor said in an emailed statement.

"We continue to look at federal funding to replace lost revenue. Layoffs and furloughs continue to be our last option.”

The talks of furloughs comes as the Council on Revenues is forecasting a $2.3 billion shortfall in the state budget. But lawmakers said that during the recent special session, they made up for all but $400 million of the shortfall.

Legislators said the state can close the gap -- through belt-tightening and strategic cuts -- without resorting to furloughs.

“Because we set aside over $1 billion, we think that at least for now we should be able to avoid massive reductions," said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee.

“We need to make sure needed services and help to the community continues.”

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