Did you think the governor issued layoff notices to impel the unions to more readily agree to the more sensible alternative of furloughs? Because if the layoff notices are lighting a fire under anybody, it seems to be state legislators.
The unions are still moving with deliberation, possibly hoping that the economy will stop getting worse, tax revenue will increase, and a smaller concessionary delta will be the focus of negotiations after that.
Lawmakers, on the other hand, now that can see what specific jobs are for the chop, are concerned about the state services set to be screwed up as an inevitable consequence of having no more dough to fund them.
The selection of jobs to reduce does not show any obvious sign that anyone deliberately sought to create as much pain as possible, to hold their breath until you turn blue. To the contrary, they’re spread out among many departments, and the other departments that seem mostly spared are those with a lot of non-union employees who are being put on the furlough program instead, the judge’s order not having impeded that with workers who aren’t subject to collective bargaining.
But the layoffs still include agriculture inspectors, nurses and other people who come nowhere close to the slow-moving, never-heard-of-customer-service, surly bureaucrats that many people fantasized would be sent backing in a round of layoffs. Heavens! Agriculture inspectors and nurses! They do actual work!
Within hours of issuance of the list detailing the positions being cut, several lawmakers had gone on record saying this won’t do. Some who wield budget power even claimed the jobs could not be eliminated without their say-so, while the agriculture cuts produced an immediate constituency for taking action among lawmakers from neighbor islands, especially the Big Island.
As I reported a couple of weeks ago, the state ag department stands to lose inspectors who are a necessary part of the process of exporting Hawaii farm goods to other countries. The fear is that perishable goods will, uh, perish, before they can reach their markets.