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More layoffs ahead, Lingle says


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POSTED: Friday, September 04, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle is planning another round of state worker layoffs, plus cuts to social service programs that will result in “;a fundamental restructuring of state government.”;

In a statewide Internet address, Lingle, who was not available to explain her decisions, said while her administration goes ahead with the legally required binding arbitration meeting on state employee contracts today, she is planning “;a reshaping and right-sizing”; of government and services.

Lingle put the total drop in tax collections and projected collections from 2008 through 2011 at $3 billion, making it impossible to continue spending as the state is now.

She said she has no choice because the public employee unions, especially the Hawaii Government Employees Association, have not agreed to her call for three-day monthly unpaid furloughs.

;[Preview]  Additional State layoffs plus further cuts expected
 

Governor Lingle spoke via webcast of the need for a fundamental restructuring of state services.

Watch ]

 

Because Lingle timed her address within 24 hours of the start of binding negotiations with the HGEA, one critic, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, called the speech “;an act of desperation.”;

“;She continues to insist that it is her way or the highway, 'Capitulate and give me three furlough days, or I am going to take it out on the programs and on the poor and needy,'”; Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho) said.

Lingle, in a Web video that was marred by repeated technical problems, stressed she would not order further cuts for the Department of Education or the University of Hawaii because she has already imposed 14 percent funding restrictions.

But Lingle warned that she has a list of six new actions to save money and cut the budget.

The plan includes eliminating programs that can be handled at the federal or county level, or by volunteers; rolling back welfare payment increases; consolidating functions; closing offices; and halting services and programs.

Lingle then called on the state judicial and legislative branches to cut their budgets by 14 percent, which she said would save $42 million through the next two years.

In her video, Lingle was critical of the Legislature for holding hearings about her first round of 1,100 layoffs, which are scheduled to begin in November, and also raising taxes.

“;Raising taxes has been ineffective and even counterproductive,”; Lingle said, adding that “;tax revenues are declining, not increasing.”;

Oshiro, House Finance Committee chairman, said three legislative-approved tax increases are helping.

“;Her own budget director pointed that out at our briefing, but for the Legislature passing those measures we would be $300 million deeper,”; Oshiro said.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Ways and Means Committee chairwoman, said, “;I don't know if she is bluffing or what. What bothers me is she is light on specifics. We don't know how much her savings are going to generate. She can't pinpoint the savings from the first rounds of layoffs. First her budget policy was based on furloughs, and now it is not. ... It is misleading.”;

Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director, said his union “;has proposed furloughs effective in October.”;

Oshiro also said he thinks the unions are realistically thinking that “;it will take furloughs, and some concessions will have to be made.

“;But it seems the governor is not interested in compromise,”; Oshiro said.