“While it is true we must make tough choices to close this budget gap, we must all share in the sacrifice for the greater good. One of the ways we propose to help close that budget gap is for all government employees to donate a day a month. And it should start with us in the legislature. Otherwise, we are going to go down the road of more layoffs.”
House Bill 200, House Draft 1, amongst other things, eliminates over 730 full-time positions, including laying off over 300 employees.
“We are in an extraordinary crisis and state employees are in a unique position to help save Hawaii from our economic crisis, added Representative Kymberly Pine. “Just a little sharing of resources by state workers can go a long way to ease the overwhelming burden that Hawaii families are feeling. Prior to the budget hearings very few of us knew just how bad our budget situation was. We believe that union members would rather give a little than to see their friends lose their jobs and taxes increased on the people of Hawaii.
Labor bills that were introduced by Speaker Calvin Say which could help close the budget gap were killed by the House Labor and Public Employment Committee in mid-February. Political will and union support could help revive the bills. House Republicans believe that just passing the buck to the governor to negotiate with the unions ensures that only she has to make the difficult choices.
“Economic recovery is going to be based on three things consumer confidence, the availability of money, and circulating that money through the economy quickly,” said Representative Gene Ward. “The availability of money, and doing it as expeditiously as possible, are the factors that the financial bailout, the federal stimulus package, and the Governor’s acceleration of approximately $1.9 billion in previously approved CIP try to target. The last thing we need is a massive tax increase. We need to balance the budget first, before starting or growing programs.”
“Many small businesses in Hawaii are barely able to survive right now. We need to lower the costs of doing business in Hawaii, and the legislature could start by reducing taxes and not adding costly new employer-paid mandates,” said National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Hawaii Leadership Council Chair Ron Heller.
“Government needs to stay out of the way of business. Constantly trying to tax business and increase costs does not help. We can’t pass on the costs to our customers. We need to reduce our costs in order to attract customers in this economy,” said NFIB Hawaii Leadership Council member Marcia Anderson.