Lingle signs law reducing pay for top state officials


POSTED: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pay cuts of 5 percent for high-level state officials—including lawmakers, judges and the governor—have been signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle.

The wage cuts come as Lingle has proposed state workers take furloughs equivalent to a 14 percent pay cut to help make up a budget deficit of $730 million over the next two years.

The cuts also come after lawmakers already received raises of 36 percent, to roughly $48,000 a year, at the start of 2009. Lingle and judges' pay went up last year.

Pay rates are determined in advance by the state Salary Commission and take effect automatically unless lawmakers pass legislation to stop them. Lawmakers have been criticized for taking the increases while others have been forced to take cuts.

“;I can appreciate what the public is saying, but we did try to take the lead by going with the 5 percent (pay cut proposal) during the session,”; said House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Palolo Valley).

The law signed by Lingle yesterday, House Bill 1536, reduces the pay of 208 state employees and freezes scheduled future salary increases. The move is expected to save about $6.5 million over two years.

At the start of the session, Lingle and Say proposed a delay in the pay increases, but others balked. The majority of lawmakers came around as the state's revenue picture worsened.

“;The 5 percent is what was discussed in session,”; Say said yesterday. “;No one anticipated it would be like what has been proposed by the governor.”;

The Council on Revenues predicted last week that the state would have about $612 million less in tax revenues to work with than originally forecast in March, when lawmakers were crafting the state budget.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.