Quantcast
StarBulletin.com

Lingle seeks cut in workweek


By

POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

If the courts don't stop her, Gov. Linda Lingle will set in motion two years of “;furlough Fridays”; for at least 15,600 state employees.

;[Preview]    Governor Imposes State Furloughs
  ;[Preview]
 

Starting next month, 15,600 government workers will be ordered to take furloughs for three days a month to save money to help close the state's $730 million budget shortfall.

Watch ]

 

               

     

 

FURLOUGH FAQ

        These are examples from a question-and-answer sheet provided by the governor's office:
       

Question: Can an employee use paid leave (e.g., vacation, sick, comp time) in lieu of furloughs?

       

Answer: No

       

Q: Will furloughs affect the number of hours of vacation or sick leave earned?

       

A: No, nor will furlough days be counted as a break in service.

       

Q: Will furloughs affect calculation retirement benefits?

       

A: Yes. Those benefits are based on actual pay. “;Average final compensation”; for service and disability retirement benefit purposes is based on the employee's three or five highest-paid years of creditable service. Any furlough might lower the “;average final compensation”; level.

       

Download PDFs of the complete FAQ,:
        » Part 1
        » Part 2

       

With the state facing an unresolved $688 million shortfall over the course of its two-year budget, Lingle announced the specifics yesterday of her administration's plan to deal with the looming budget crisis.

She said the state budget has already been reduced by $2 billion through the next three years, and now an additional $688 million will be cut by reducing state workers' pay through furloughs.

To deal with the cuts, Lingle essentially is arranging most state departments to close or limit hours of services on three Fridays a month. The specific closings are posted online on the governor's Web page, http://www.hawaii.gov/gov/furlough.

The plan does not affect the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the judiciary, the Legislature and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs because Lingle cannot order personnel changes in those departments.

However, she noted yesterday that she can restrict funds going to the education and university systems. She said the Education Department will have a $278.4 million budget cut and $106.8 million will be cut from UH.

Although public worker union representatives were not available for comment yesterday afternoon, three of the four unions have filed suit in Circuit Court, contending that the furloughs are illegal or violate the state Constitution.

The fourth union, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, has filed a grievance protesting the cuts.

Lingle said if they are successful in blocking furloughs, she will be forced to lay off workers.

“;If the furloughs are not implemented, the state would have to lay off at least 2,500 executive branch employees to make up the projected revenue shortfall,”; said Lingle, who originally projected 10,000 layoffs.

She repeated her warning that state department heads are already working on lists of workers to be laid off and how to handle closing certain state programs.

The furloughs allow Lingle to cut state worker paychecks by 13.8 percent, starting next month, but she said it saves workers' jobs.

Changes due to the furloughs will also be dramatic.

Most state departments would be closed on Fridays, except for two days in December, until July 2011.

Other state departments would rearrange their hours of operation and others would remain open with reduced staffing.

For instance, the Airports Division would shorten hours to 6.8 hours a day, although airport rescue and firefighting will continue with around-the-clock operations.

State agencies continuing with normal operating hours include Aloha Stadium, Child Welfare Services, state correctional facilities and the Defense Department, including veterans services and family guidance centers, operated by the Health Department.

Workers in those agencies, however, will be staggered or rotated around their furlough days. Lingle also said employees would not be able to file for overtime.

Finally, Lingle said both her office and the lieutenant governor's office will remain open during normal hours.

The judiciary and the Legislature have not yet said if they also would take furlough days.