Maui News

LINGLE AND INOUYE EXCHANGE BARBS OVER POTENTIAL LAYOFFS

July 21, 2009, 10:41 AM HST
* Updated August 11, 3:06 PM
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Governor Linda Lingle and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye exchanged barbs over a notice issued by the governor yesterday, calling for a possible reduction of 1100 jobs.

Inouye called the situation unfortunate and voiced his support for the program proposed by labor unions saying it saves money and assures the continuance of state services.  Governor Lingle responded calling Inouye’s comments inappropriate and misleading, saying the 5% pay reduction offered by the unions is not enough to balance the state’s budget.  Lingle said she continues to believe that furloughs are preferable to layoffs.

Negotiations continue between the administration and the public employee unions.

INOUYE RESPONSDS TO CONSULTATION LETTERS JULY 20, 2009

“Over the months that I have watched this dispute unfold and I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail and return to the bargaining table to negotiate a solution. Unfortunately that has not happened. Why should there be layoffs? The program proposed by labor unions saves money and assures that state services continue. Workers are usually laid off if they are no longer necessary. In a period of economic crisis of this nature, you need government employees to assist others,” said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

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“There are moments in our lives when political consequences could be considered. But this is a crisis that affects the lives and properties of our people. We should not make decisions to politically punish or politically enhance a group. This is a time when all of us should put our minds together, set aside differences, and work out a solution.”

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LINGLE RESPONDS TO SEN. INOUYE’S COMMENTS JULY 20, 2009

“Sen. Inouye’s comments are inappropriate, factually inaccurate and misleading.  By attempting to insert himself into the labor negotiation process, Sen. Inouye is unnecessarily creating a distraction from the fact that without the implementation of labor savings, the State’s fiscal crisis will continue to deepen.  This is not a political issue, as the Senator hopes to lead the public to believe, but rather a fiscal reality that we must address.

“The facts are:  today my Administration notified the United Public Workers Union and Hawai’i Government Employees Association of possible reductions in force of state employees.  The notification is the first step, as required by law, in the reduction in force procedures.

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“It is also important to note that the 5 percent reduction offered informally by the unions equals $203 million over the biennium.  Although EUTF benefits are still being negotiated, if the percentage stays the same as today (60/40 split), the cost is $94.3 in the biennium.  This amounts to only about $100 million in labor savings, which is not nearly enough to balance the budget as required by the Constitution, because our current shortfall is $786 million.

“I continue to believe that furloughs are preferable to layoffs and my Administration is continuing to negotiate with the public employee unions to achieve a resolution.”

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

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