By James Prichard; Pacific Business News; July 12, 2016
The Hawaii Legislature convened a special session on Tuesday in an effort to save a bill aimed at providing benefits for unionized employees at three state-owned Maui hospitals who risk losing their jobs due to privatization.
Ige vetoed Senate Bill 2077 on Monday. The bill would have provided extra retirement and severance bonuses for 1,400 unionized workers who will be affected by the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital. The three state-owned hospitals on Maui and Lanai are transitioning to Kaiser Permanente.
His administration had said the bill would have cost the state more than $60 million. The union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, supported the measure.
After the veto, Ige proposed an amended version that would be less expensive, appropriating $25 million to cover the cost of benefits. It would eliminate providing the hospital employees with a choice of benefits and provide a negotiated separation benefit.
“The amendment of the governor has some merit, and he’s worked very hard on it, but we don’t believe it has gone far enough, and we want it to do a little bit more,” said Souki, who, like Ige, is a Democrat.
He said the House and Senate will return to the Capitol on Monday, when an amended bill will be introduced. Two days later, on July 20, the Legislature will vote after hearing the third reading of the measure. If passed, Ige will then have 10 days to either sign the amended bill into law or veto it.
“I’m confident that it’s going to come out OK,” Souki said. “Very confident.”