Governor delays January start of furloughs for state workers, but doesn’t set new date

Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 7:36 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor told state workers Wednesday that furloughs that were set to begin in January will be delayed, but he has not announced a new start date.

Gov. David Ige said the federal government’s $900 billion pandemic relief package allows Hawaii to put off implementation of the furloughs ― or two unpaid days a month for most state workers.

In a letter to state employees Wednesday, Ige said he has been anxiously awaiting news of federal aid.

Earlier this week, he said he was “hopeful” the stimulus package would allow the state to delay the furloughs or reduce the need for some or all of them.

“I know the uncertainty makes things difficult for you and your families. We are continuing to monitor the latest information and will provide an update as soon as we can,” the governor told state workers.

“The impact to the state’s budget has been severe, and economists predict it will take years to recover.”

The state is poised to get $1.7 billion in aid from the federal stimulus package, which has passed Congress but is awaiting the president’s signature.

He has indicated he will not support it.

Earlier this month, the governor announced a furlough plan for most state workers in a bid to slash approximately $300 million a year in payroll costs.

The furloughs would amount to a roughly 9% pay cut.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly on Wednesday filed a legal challenge of the furloughs, questioning the governor’s right to unilaterally institute a contract change.

Other unions have also threatened legal action.

Ige has said the furloughs are necessary to prevent thousands of layoffs amid an ongoing budget crisis that’s created a $1.4 billion general fund shortfall in each of the next four years.

This story will be updated.

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