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StarBulletin.com

Furloughs a wild card


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POSTED: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Republican candidate for governor Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona Jr. says he does not know whether Furlough Fridays will be an issue in the coming election.

Aiona, who has served as Gov. Linda Lingle's lieutenant governor for two terms, said he did not know whether Lingle's tough stand on furloughs and labor negotiations would hurt him in the election.

Aiona was commenting yesterday during a news conference to announce new grass-roots coordinators for his campaign.

Asked whether the furloughs issue would hurt his campaign, Aiona said, “;I have no opinion on that if it is hurting my campaign. I know what the issues are and what we have done to address them and where I want to go with these issues in the further.”;

Aiona had previously tried without success to bring the unions, school board and Department of Education together to attempt to modify the Furlough Friday labor agreement.

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Identifying education and improving the state's economy are two of his campaign's major issues. Aiona said yesterday he supports the concept of breaking up the statewide school board into smaller, more geographically representative units, as Lingle has urged, but said he was not ready to offer any specifics.

“;I also believe in a change of governance in regard to local school boards is very viable, and I think it should be discussed,”; Aiona said.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is running for governor on the Democratic ticket, says he has watched the school board debate for eight years and thinks it is going nowhere.

“;This has been an ongoing argument for two terms, and the fact that it has not been satisfactorily resolved shows it is an unproductive line of discussion,”; Abercrombie said.