Lawmakers commit $67 million from hurricane fund to end school furloughs
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
Hoping to prevent teacher furloughs next school year, state House and Senate tonight negotiators agreed to devote $67 million from the state's Hurricane Relief Fund if Gov. Linda Lingle and educators can finally reach a deal.
Lawmakers had promised additional state money to reduce teacher furloughs nearly six months ago, when the public backlash against furloughs first began, but tonight took a concrete step.
The money, which still requires final approval by the full House and Senate, could be used to eliminate the three furlough days remaining this school year and the 17 furloughs that are scheduled next school year to help with the state's budget deficit.
The burden now shifts back to Lingle, the state Board of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association to decide whether to take advantage of the money and revise the two-year contract with teachers.
"I hope people realize that this is not an effort to say that we support the proposals by the union, by the department, by the board, by the governor, but we really are supporting the children of this state,"said state Rep. Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City, Momilani, Pacific Palisades).
"To say that here's some dollars to end the furloughs, and we are really are pleading with the parties to get back together and come to a resolution so we can end the furloughs."