School days off might be subject of special session


POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

A majority of state senators are signing on to the idea of returning to the Capitol to find money for education, but it is still not clear whether there is enough support to bring lawmakers back into session early.

It takes two-thirds approval in both the Senate and House to convene a special session, or the governor could do so on her own.

State Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa-Kapolei-Ewa Beach) wants to get a majority of legislators in favor of a special session and then ask Gov. Linda Lingle to order it.

He says money could be taken from the Hurricane Relief Fund to stop further school closures and teacher furloughs.

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He says 13 of 25 senators have signed on to his special-session petition.

However, Sen. Norman Sakamoto, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Housing, said he does not think there will be a special session.

“;With the governor not in favor of a special session, that doesn't seem to be in the cards at this time,”; said Sakamoto (D, Kalihi-Pearl Ridge).

Rep. Della Au Belatti says eight of 51 representatives have committed to backing the effort, and she expects to pick up more support next week.

However, House Speaker Calvin Say has said he prefers to handle all of the state budget matters, not just education, during the regular session, which starts in January.

“;Going forward, the House will consider solutions to the school furlough issue during the upcoming regular session,”; Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina) said yesterday. “;Parents and the public, however, should be aware that public education is one of several priorities that will be adversely impacted by the budget crisis. Other state services and employees will suffer because of furloughs and, possibly, layoffs. The Legislature must also consider those state services and employees.”;