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StarBulletin.com

HGEA favors mix toward solution, not tax hike alone


By

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

As one of the major Honolulu daily newspapers, you are truly doing a disservice to your readers by misleading them with inaccurate information (

”;Leave tax policy alone,”; Star-Bulletin, Editorial, Nov. 10

).

HGEA has always recognized that the state has a large budget deficit; however, we also realized that our state has a revenue problem. During the 2009 legislative session, we advocated for a combination of solutions, which included budget cuts, tapping special funds, enacting early retirement legislation (not a monetary “;incentive,”; but simply allow employees to retire early without penalty), and a temporary, modest increase to the general excise tax, which was also preferred by business groups, nonprofits, and some in the visitor and high-technology industries.

We hope that you will finally accept the fact that we at no time felt that a GET increase, in and of itself, is the cure-all for our budget woes. We, along with respected local economists, recognized that any drastic measure — whether it's large cuts to workers' pay or large tax increases — would be harmful to our state economy.

You also wrote: “;State employee unions have refused to accept any reduction in hourly wages, instead accepting labor contracts that include furloughs.”; It is surprising that you are criticizing the unions for “;accepting”; furloughs, yet months ago — in six editorials since May — you were among those urging us to do so.

Regarding the four-day work week pilot project with the state, you stated the HGEA “;appears to have balked at making it permanent.”; That statement is patently false. Contrary to what you choose to believe, HGEA was supportive of the project, and in fact, we were hoping it would be successful, as it was what most of our members in those departments had wanted. However, a few members were concerned that their new work hours would make it difficult for them to meet other scheduled obligations.

We were ready to work with the Department of Human Resources Development to address the operational issues, but it was management who did not want to work with us on a solution, and instead decided not to continue the program after the pilot period ended.

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Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto is president of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.