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4 mayors oppose state pay cuts


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There is a new complication for Gov. Linda Lingle as she tries to sell her pay-cut plan to both the Legislature and the public unions.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann says his budget is ready to go without slashing pay and benefits. He adds that the neighbor island mayors also have mapped out their budgets without cutting pay and benefits.

This means the mayors are not ready to automatically go along with Lingle's plan to balance the state budget with big state worker pay cuts in a new contract.

Without agreement from at least one (the state has four votes and each of the four counties has one vote in contract negotiations), Lingle cannot formally make her offer to the unions, Hannemann says.

After a meeting Thursday between the four mayors, Hannemann said they agreed not to endorse Lingle's plan until they study it in detail.

“;What she sent down, not one of us is willing to say, carte blanche, we agree,”; he said yesterday in an interview.

The Lingle administration did not comment on Hannemann's statements.

The public worker unions represent state and county workers, with the governor's negotiator usually working out a contract applicable to both sets of employees.

Hannemann says he has already taken the controversial step of proposing raising property taxes and other fees to fill holes in the county budget and is questioning the need to now reduce workers' pay.

Hannemann started off planning for his budget by saying public workers would not get pay raises and that his executives would work one day a month without pay.

“;With the governor's plan, all we know is she said the higher you make, the more of a pay cut you would take. We need to know how all this will pencil out,”; Hannemann said. “;I am not totally dismissing it outright. We are trying to figure out the best way to cooperate, but I want to underscore that we have already made many of the difficult decisions to balance our own budgets, and now they are asking us to make additional cuts.”;

Lingle is set to go before the Senate Ways and Means Committee this morning to discuss her budget-cutting plan.

The chairwoman, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, says Lingle's plan lacks details and leaves the state without adequate financial plans for the future.

And Hannemann says he thinks the counties are in a better position to negotiate without the state.

“;We all have good relationships with the unions, in some instances way better than the administration,”; Hannemann says.