Business / In Brief • Feb. 6, 2013

Allegiant and union agree on attendants

HONOLULU – A flight attendants union says it has agreed with Allegiant Air on attendants for routes between Honolulu and other cities.

Transport Workers Union Local 577 said Tuesday that the agreement covers flights to Boise, Idaho; Phoenix and Spokane, Wash.

The union says Allegiant originally wanted to use part-time flight attendants to cover the routes, but changed its mind and is now hiring attendants based in Honolulu to fly the new routes as well as existing routes to California and elsewhere.

Hawaii law requires companies to provide health benefits for employees who work more than 20 hours each week.


Teachers want to raise taxes for education

HONOLULU – Hawaii teachers want state lawmakers to increase funding for education by raising the general excise tax.

The House Committee on Economic Development and Business approved a bill Tuesday to increase the general excise tax by 1 percent after hearing several teachers testify about the challenges of providing quality education.

The bill still has two more committees to go through but, if passed, it would increase how much consumers pay for most goods and services in Hawaii. The current tax is 4 percent, with a 0.5 percent surcharge on Oahu.

Numerous teachers testified that deteriorating infrastructure, high student-to-teacher ratios and low salaries are some of many challenges they face in providing quality education.

Just three people submitted testimony opposing the bill, including the state Department of Budget and Finance.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association isn’t involved.


Lawmakers mull over unfunded liabilities

HONOLULU – Hawaii lawmakers are investigating the problem of the growing cost of state retiree health care.

More than a dozen bills addressing the issue have been introduced in the House.

A special House committee charged with addressing unfunded liabilities learned about the future cost of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Trust Fund and ways to finance it during an informational briefing Monday.

Rep. Cindy Evans, a Democrat, says the state needs to consider setting tighter parameters for the program given an aging population and costs rising in the future.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in his State of the State address last month that he wants to prioritize financing rising state employee pension and health care deficits this session.