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Lingle explores support for future special session


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration is starting to sound out legislative leaders about a possible special session to raid much of the state's $60 million rainy day fund to wipe out some of the public school teachers' furlough days.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa says she met yesterday with members of the state administration, including Linda Smith, Lingle's senior policy adviser, and Marie Laderta, human resources director.

“;They have proposed a bill and a sample proclamation,”; Hanabusa said. “;They are waiting to see if there is support for it.”;

Both Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say have said the Democratic majority is willing to go back into a special session to pass a bill to provide money to turn furloughs into instructional days, but Say has added that before the House will return, the Hawaii State Teachers Association must show that the teachers are in agreement with the changes either through a formal vote or a straw poll.

The governor is expected to issue a proclamation calling the Legislature into session if the administration can reach an agreement with the union.

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Wil Okabe, HSTA president, said the union is not agreeing to Lingle's proposal.

“;We've offered viable solutions and options to the governor to end the furloughs, which she has so far rejected. But we are continuing to work with parent groups and other stakeholders to find a solution, and hope the governor will begin to show some flexibility,”; Okabe said.

According to Hanabusa, Lingle has not changed her proposal to get public school teachers back to work on the so-called Furlough Fridays.

Lingle's plan would use 15 nonclassroom days (when teachers are paid but do not teach classes) to restore all teaching days lost on Furlough Fridays starting next month.

The remaining 12 days would be paid for with an estimated $50 million from the rainy day fund.

The Legislature is involved because the rainy day fund cannot be tapped except by changes to state law, requiring lawmakers to go back into session for five days. Say has already said that the administration and the teachers have until Dec. 31 to put something before the Legislature.