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Lawmakers approve money for state worker pay raises

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:06 p.m. HST, Apr 25, 2013

Hawaii lawmakers are moving forward bills to provide funding for collective bargaining agreements with nurses, teachers and correctional workers.

Committees of legislators approved the bills today. The full House and Senate still have to vote on the measures.

Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said higher-than-expected settlements in the state’s negotiations with unions have delayed funding decisions for other proposed programs, including Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s preschool initiative.

A budget committee approved a draft of the state budget Tuesday that left just $30 million to divide among collective bargaining agreements and other measures still being debated in the Legislature.

Funding for proposals still in limbo should be clear by the end of the day Friday, the last day for lawmakers to approve the final versions of bills.

Abercrombie originally asked for about $32 million to fund a new preschool program, but lawmakers have been reluctant to give it to him. Sen. Jill Tokuda said advocates for the bill are now focusing on getting funding for the 2014-15 school year and could revisit the issue next session.

In addition to his early childhood education proposal, Abercrombie’s plan to encourage innovation also is in limbo. He originally asked for $20 million, and the Senate gave initial approval for $8 million.

Lawmakers also are weighing the potential financial impact of proposals for more generous tax credits for the film industry and other industries.

The last day of the legislative session is May 2.

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