Gov. David Ige announced Thursday he is abandoning the idea of imposing state worker furloughs and layoffs after President Joe Biden signed the new pandemic relief package into law.

Ige first raised the idea of imposing public worker furloughs last April, and ran into fierce resistance from the public employee unions. He later delayed the furlough plan, opting instead to borrow $750 million to help state government cover payroll and other operating expenses this year.

More recently, Ige announced last month he would not impose twice-per-month furloughs this year thanks to additional federal aid and the gradual recovery of the state’s tourism industry. But Ige said he still needed “labor savings” to balance the budget, which might take the form of furloughs.

But the $1.9 trillion federal pandemic aid package that became law on Thursday changed all that. The American Rescue Plan includes $1.6 billion to bolster the state budget, which convinced Ige to finally announce he is dropping the whole idea of furloughs.

“This new infusion of federal funding gives the state much needed breathing room so that layoffs and furloughs are no longer necessary in the foreseeable future,” Ige said in a written statement. “We must still assess all impacts of the COVID-19 relief bill before we have a clearer picture of its effect on the state budget.”

The federal relief package also offers an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, and includes $1,400 stimulus payments for qualified taxpayers and their dependents.

We appreciate gifts of any amount

When you give, your donation is combined with gifts from thousands of your fellow readers, and together you help power the strongest team of investigative journalists in the state.

Every little bit helps. Will you join us?

About the Author