State lawmakers look to deter, recover salary overpayments

HONOLULU (AP) — State officials are working to reclaim balances on nearly $1.4 million in salary overpayments mistakenly made to public employees as far back as the 1990s.

The outstanding balance across state departments was about $394,700 as of Dec. 31 after amounts recovered through installment payments and amounts referred to the attorney general for collection are deducted, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

Monthly balances in 2017 ranged from a low of $387,542 in November to a high of $613,883 in March, according to the Department of Accounting and General Services, which administers the state’s payroll.

Democratic State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim said those balances are too high and introduced legislation aimed at motivating state departments to more aggressively recover balances owed and deter salary overpayments in the first place.

“The problem is we have automatic salary payments,” said Kim, the lead sponsor of the bill. “You automatically will get your paycheck every two weeks unless notified otherwise.”

Most of the overpayments happen when employees call in sick or take vacation when they don’t have enough or have exhausted their paid leave, Kim said.

Kim’s bill would require state agencies to deduct overpayment costs from their annual budget requests to the Legislature and place employees who exhaust their sick leave on a manual payroll system.