Gov. David Ige and his cabinet, state judges and lawmakers wouldn’t get pay raises this year under a proposal that won approval of a key panel of senators Thursday.

House Bill 117 would defer pay increases for those top state officials as well as all 76 legislators. The bill still needs the approval of both the House and Senate, but that appears likely.

Pay raises are currently scheduled to go into effect July 1 for the executive branch and judges. The Legislature would get pay raises Jan. 1.

Putting off those pay increases already has preliminary agreement between Ige, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, House Speaker Scott Saiki and Senate President Ron Kouchi.

Governor David Ige gives his 2020 State of the State address at the Capitol flanked rear by left, Senate President Ron Kouchi, Speaker Scott Saiki and far right, LG Josh Green.
The state’s top officials won’t see pay raises this year under a proposal pending in the Legislature. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The gesture is symbolic. It would save just over $640,000 as lawmakers work to plug a $1 billion hole in the state’s $8 billion general fund budget. But given the state’s financial situation, lawmakers said in a press release, implementing those raises as scheduled would be irresponsible.

The proposal also comes at a time when Hawaii faces record-high unemployment numbers due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also comes a month after Ige proposed slashing every state worker’s pay, including his own, by 20% to cover the budget hole. Pay cuts for public employees will now only be a last resort, Ige has said.

The schedule of pay raises for state officials through 2024 was set by the Hawaii Commission on Salaries last year.

And putting off the pay raises won’t be forever.

Under the current draft of HB 117, pay increases for all those officials will be back on track come July 1, 2021.

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