Ige delays furloughs until ‘at least July 1’

  • IGE

Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that he is delaying the implementation of furloughs for state employees through at least July 1, 2021.

The decision was made after review of the federal $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed Dec. 23 by Congress and signed into law Sunday by President Donald Trump, Ige said in an email tendered to state employees shortly before noon Tuesday.

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“We found it provides enough direct support to programs in Hawaii that I am able to delay furloughs for executive branch employees until at least July 1, 2021,” Ige wrote.

The announcement came a day after Ige appeared on a Honolulu Star-Advertiser Spotlight Hawaii program during which he stated his administration was still reviewing the bill and would announce a specific date in the future.

The furloughs, which were set to begin Friday, were announced in early December as a means to save $300 million throughout a 12-month period, helping plug a projected $1.4 billion hole in the state budget.

About 10,000 state workers would have to stay home two days a month under the plan, resulting in a 9.2% salary cut. The state Department of Education released modified furlough plans for its more than 20,000 employees, taking into account the academic calendar to minimize the affect the days off would have on student instruction.

“We have much to do in the new year to fight the pandemic and help the people of Hawaii, whose health, social and economic well-being have been threatened by COVID-19,” Ige wrote. “Thank you for your efforts and your patience throughout. Going forward, I am counting on your and our team to continue to focus on protecting public health, reviving our economy and strengthening our communities.”

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said Tuesday afternoon that the Department of Education confirmed the furlough delay also applies to its members.

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“This is great news for our keiki, our teachers and for Hawaii’s economy,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “This school year has been difficult enough without the additional burden of furloughs. HSTA appreciates Gov. Ige’s decision to delay furloughs for this school year, and we will work with our state leaders to find solutions to avoid further cuts next school year.”

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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