The Legislature today overrode Gov. David Ige’s veto of a bill providing severance packages and retirement benefits to Maui County hospital workers who will lose their state jobs as three hospitals are transferred to Kaiser Permanente. The majority of workers are expected to go to work for Kaiser.
Lawmakers provided no funding for the benefits packages, however, making it unclear whether Ige can or will implement the measures outlined in Senate Bill 2077.
When Ige vetoed the measure earlier this month, he said it was too expensive and could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the Employees’ Retirement System. Ige estimated SB 2077 could cost the state more than $60 million.
Instead, he proposed another bill to the Legislature, which would have cost the state significantly less. Neither the Senate or House put Ige’s proposed bill to a vote.
The veto comes as the Ige administration has been negotiating with the United Public Workers to resolve a lawsuit the union brought against the state alleging the privatization pursuit violates state contracts with the unions that are in effect until June 30, 2017. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May issued an injunction in the lawsuit that temporarily halted the privatization effort.
The Hawaii Government Employees Association, which backed SB 2077, had also threatened to sue the state in recent days.
The House voted 43 to 3 to override the governor’s veto, easily securing the two-thirds majority necessary to overturn Ige’s decision. Reps. Romy Cachola, Calvin Say and Cynthia Thielen voted against overriding the veto. Five representatives were absent for the vote.
The Senate vote was 18 to 4, narrowly securing the necessary 17 votes needed.
Sens. Les Ihara, Laura Thielen, Donna Kim and Sam Slom, the Senate’s only Republican, voted against overriding the governor’s veto. Sen. Clarence Nishihara and Sen. Glenn Wakai voted yes, but with reservations.
Three senators were excused.