Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Government workers’ agreement to add more than $100 million to state deficit by grassroothawaii
April 8, 2011, 11:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Hawaii Votes

In relation to state budget bill HB 200, public workers are now in contract negations for the next 2 years and whatever agreement the union reaches with the governor will affect the overall budget for the state.

In a study released in February 2011, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii is number one in the nation for public worker to private sector worker ratio. Hawaii has 3 times more public workers than the national average, at about 15 government workers per 100 private sector workers.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) announced its latest collective bargaining agreement, which shows a 5 percent pay cut over the next 2 years in exchange for the elimination of 2 unpaid furlough days per month. Furloughs began July 1, 2009, and go until June 30, 2011. Union representatives estimate that this pay cut will save $124 million over the 2-year contract period, which is actually less than the nearly $232 million saved by 2-day per month unpaid furlough days of public workers.

In addition, the new contract would add 6 hours off per paid worker per month, meaning 9 more paid days off a year per worker.

Currently, HGEA members may take 21 paid vacation days and 21 sick days year, along with 13 paid holidays. With the new contract, that amounts to the potential of 63 paid work days off per year per public worker.

The HGEA contract, which will not be made available to the public until long after it is passed, does not reduce the state budget, but based on what the union representatives and the governor have reported thus far, it will increase the cost of government by more than $100 million.

At the beginning of the legislative session, the governor’s proposed budget would have increased costs by more than $490 million over 2 years. This is at a time when the state is already facing a budget deficit of an estimated $1.3 billion over 2 years, based on revenue and expenditure projections.

While the House did not include the governor’s increases, whatever the HGEA contract agreement amounts to cost-wise will have to be added to state’s already deficit  budget.


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