Education board leader finds redemption in judge's ruling


POSTED: Friday, July 03, 2009

State Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said a court decision shows the school board was correct in not taking action on budget cuts based on state-proposed furloughs.

The board withheld action on budget cuts waiting for Gov. Linda Lingle's decision on the state budget measure. She signed the bill.

But Toguchi renewed his request to Lingle to use the state's hurricane relief and “;rainy day”; funds for education or for state legislators to temporarily raise the general excise tax to preserve education funds and avoid layoffs.

“;Hawaii's public schools are waiting for bold and decisive action to be taken in strengthening the local economy,”; Toguchi said. “;No matter what the board does with respect to our budget, we can plug the holes for only so long.”;

Toguchi cited some economists who say a combination of furloughs and tax increases would support strengthening the economy.

But he said deep state budget cuts to public schools without the ability to implement furloughs or wage reductions would likely lead to layoffs, fewer school days and difficulty in obtaining federal stimulus funds.

The board is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Queen Liliuokalani Building, 1390 Miller St., to discuss general fund budget cuts totaling about $468 million during the next two fiscal years.