(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi state employees will not go begin work furloughs in January, Governor David Ige announced on Wednesday.
Governor Ige said told state employees in an afternoon letter that “the state had been waiting months to see if Congress would provide additional federal funds to help address the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts here in Hawai‘i.”
“Based on the promise of federal aid, the governor made the decision to delay the implementation of the furloughs,” a State news release reported.
On Monday, a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill was passed by the U.S. Senate, and awaits the signature of President Trump. Governor Ige says “while the aid package doesn’t provide designated funding to state and local governments for revenue shortfall, it does provide direct funding for mitigation measures that the state would have to pay for otherwise, such as vaccine distribution, testing, education, and more.”
There is no timeline of when the furloughs will begin.
Corey Rosenlee, Hawaii State Teachers Association president, said, “HSTA is happy that Governor Ige has decided to delay furloughs. We believe with Congress passing the stimulus package, which includes $200 million for Hawaii public schools, there is more than enough funding to avoid school furloughs altogether.”
Gov. Ige said to the State employees that he knows “the uncertainty makes things difficult for you and your families.”
“We are continuing to monitor the latest information and will provide an update as soon as we can,” Governor Ige said. “With the safe and effective vaccines being administered, I’m hopeful we can limit the number of new cases and see our revenues pick up soon. Nevertheless, the impact to the state’s budget has been severe, and economists predict it will take years to recover. I anticipate that permanent and ongoing changes must be made to state government and ask your help in creating a more resilient way to serve the people of Hawaiʻi.”
For teachers, the scheduled January 4 furlough day will no longer be implemented. Teachers will instead get a dedicated workday back on Jan. 4 to prepare for the second semester. The Hawaiʻi Department of Education says the February 12 furlough day and future dates may be revised if and/or when President Trump approves the current COVID-19 relief bill.