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Off the News

For Monday, June 27, 2011

LAST UPDATED: 2:23 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Furlough Fridays bid a fond aloha

State and city workers are back on the job this morning after a long weekend that started with their last Furlough Friday … ever?

It would be rash to make such a prediction. At the risk of sounding like Eeyore the sad-sack donkey, signs that better fiscal days lie ahead for Hawaii are offset by continuing economic jitters across the country. Try Googling "furloughs" and see just how many places still employ that mechanism.

Still, Hawaii residents can take advantage of more five-day weeks of services from state and county offices. We should celebrate that, as long as possible.

Who volunteers to take the hit?

As governor, Republican Linda Lingle ordered across-the-board expenditure reductions to all departments, including education, after being stymied in efforts to target lower-priority programs. Now Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat facing a substantial budget shortfall, is re-employing her initial approach, asking departments to identify specific programs to cut.

Whether programs can be found to reduce spending by $50 million in each of the next two years remains to be determined.

The question is whether across-the-board reductions will be needed in the end because of reluctance to finger programs to take a dive.

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