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Salary and Wage Over Payments Hearing Set

March 6, 2012, 4:45 PM HST · Updated March 7, 12:49 PM
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Hawaii State Captiol, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The Hawaii State Senate Special Committee on Accountability has scheduled a hearing focused on salary and wage over-payments to state employees.

The hearing comes on the heels of a recent investigation that uncovered over payments to state employees in excess of $2 million.

The hearing is set for Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at the State Capitol.

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“I intend to examine payroll and sick-leave procedures, as well as current statutes that deal with recovering overpayments. While it’s troubling that these payments were made to begin with, I’m also concerned by the State’s inability to recover them,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability in a statement.

“After testimony is heard, I am confident that the committee will have a clearer understanding as to the severity of the problem and what course of action should be recommended to my fellow Senators.”

The resolutions aim to address several problems within the system that have been identified as contributing factors to the over payments.  This includes failure to report: terminated employment in a timely manner, reduction of hours, and leave without pay.

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The same committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 8, 2012, to look at excessive overtime by public employees.

“In recent years, the economic downturn has necessitated downsizing throughout government. While staff shortages contribute to rising overtime hours, it’s no secret that the opportunity to abuse overtime exists to the detriment of hard earned pensions,” said Senator Kim.

“As chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability, one of my primary responsibilities is to identify waste and mismanagement in state operations. With our economy on the cusp of recovery, it is perhaps more important than ever for our government to increase scrutiny over inefficiencies and policies that impact our fiscal future,” she said.

The senate reports recent payroll data from the agency that operates ambulances in the City and County of Honolulu revealed that its highest-paid employees worked extensive amounts of overtime, more than doubling their annual base salary.

The Department of Public Safety recently reported that its prison employees worked more than 1,000 hours of overtime in fiscal year 2009, according to Senate information.

“Faced with growing Employees’ Retirement System unfunded liability, the committee will consider whether there is a need for an in-depth audit of additional compensation paid to state employees,” said Senator Kim.

*** Supporting information courtesy Hawaii State Senate.

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