Legislature Must Act By June 30

Larry Price
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Wednesday - June 03, 2009
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One of the most-quoted laws in management is by a man named Cyril Northcote Parkinson: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Few people would argue with the apparent wisdom of what is know these days as “Parkinson’s Law,” with the possible exception of the people who inhabit the Square Building on South Beretania Street. It’s like government moving in slow motion. No one seems to be rushing to bet that by the June 30 deadline they will come up with a financial solution to the state’s budget shortfall.

You see, if there are no agreements with the public unions by June 30, all public union contracts run out and there is no money for government workers or services.

That means no one gets paid, and probably the worst-case scenario, healthcare benefits will cease to exist. Public workers will have health-care benefits, but they will have to pay for them out of their own pockets. No one is going to like that one bit.


To their credit, members of the Legislature passed a bill that allows the reduction of salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor, justices and judges of all state courts, administrative directors of the state, department directors and deputy directors, and members of the Legislature.

The governor has not signed the legislation yet, but there is no reason she won’t.

The massive 5 percent pay reduction for so many government workers is a signal of things to come. Even before the Council on Revenues came out with its latest projections, the state was facing a projected $l billion budget shortfall for the balance of fiscal year 2009 and the biennium.

After the governor signs into law the pay reduction mandated by HB NO 1536, CD 1, all she has to do is wait for the public unions to make a deal. After all, the governor is not running for anything and has plenty of time to wait out negotiations. If you are wondering, if the unions don’t decide by June 30, by law they will have to accept the governor’s “last, best” offer, which hasn’t been made yet.

Only the Hawaii Government Employee’s Union has a cushion, because its contract calls for arbitration in the case of an impasse in negotiations. The other unions, with no commonality to rely on, are in harm’s way because time is short, very short.

If the negotiations don’t work out for the public unions, it can be logically be attributed to not recognizing Parkinson’s Law and all of its ramifications.

Since the taxpayers have no real power other than their single vote in an election,we can all just sit back and watch the hardships our budget shortfall has caused.

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