Furloughs for state employees to start Jan. 1

Gov. David Ige announces Wednesday during a news conference that state employees will be furloughed two days a month starting Jan. 1.

Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that state employees will be furloughed two days a month starting Jan. 1 to offset an expected $1.4 billion budget shortfall in the general fund for each of the next four years.

About 10,160 employees will be subject to the furlough, according to the Governor’s Office. Ige estimated that if the furloughs are effective for one year, the state would save about $300 million.

“This is the last major element of the balanced budget that I am required to submit to the state Legislature every December,” Ige said. “The pandemic has had harsh economic impacts on our country, and as a result, every state is having to make difficult choices. Hawaii is among the hardest hit states in terms of job loss and lower economic activity, because of the state’s reliance on tourism.”

The furloughs will not apply to positions that support 24/7 functions, nor will they apply to jobs with non-general fund sources. This includes about 4,600 employees who are first responders, medical and public safety personnel and employees at the departments of Commerce and Consumer Affairs as well as Transportation.

Ige’s Cabinet will also be taking a 9.23 percent reduction in pay, he said during a news conference Wednesday.

The Governor’s Office said that the state has been taking cost-saving measures over the past eight months, including:

• Pulling back $197 million of the executive’s fiscal year 2021 supplemental budget request and legislation. The Legislature further reduced the base budget by $205 million.

• Temporarily suspending pre-funding of the other post-employment benefits (state retiree health benefits) liabilities, saving $390 million.

• Restricting 10 percent of the discretionary portion of the FY21 budget that was approved by the Legislature and instituting a hiring freeze on 3,000 non-critical position vacancies.

• Authorizing the transfer of $345 million of rainy-day fund reserves and $303 million from various other funds to the general fund budget to provide additional resources to the general fund.

• Recently issuing $750 million in short-term bonds to cover current operating expenses.

• Looking at cutting program budget by $600 million every year starting in FY2022.


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