The Latest: 108 New Cases; Ige Delays Furloughs Until July; Caldwell Proposes FY22 Budget Plan

Dec 30, 2020

Updated 12/30/20, 11:59 a.m.

It's official: any furloughs of state workers will not begin until July 1 at the earliest. Governor David Ige says that's because of the latest federal COVID-19 relief measure just signed by President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, Ige said he expected to start twice a month furlough days in January.

While the latest federal relief package does not contain direct aid to the state, there will be funding for testing and contact tracing. That should help free up other state funding to delay the furloughs, which would have amounted to a pay cut of about 9%.

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 108 new cases and no new fatalities on Wednesday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 84 cases, Maui 17, Hawaiʻi Island 2, Kauaʻi 1, Lanai and Molokaʻi had none.

The latest state counts bring the Oʻahu total to 17,773, Hawaiʻi County 1,873, Maui 932, Kauaʻi 145, Lanai 106, and Molokaʻi 22. The number of out-of-state cases totals 358.

Since the pandemic began the state has tallied 21,209 cases. The death toll stands at 285.

Caldwell leaves Mayor-elect Blangiardi budget proposal

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is leaving Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi a budget proposal for the next fiscal year. In November, city officials projected a $451 million shortfall for fiscal year 2022 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caldwell yesterday unveiled his administration's plan that erases the expected shortfall without layoffs, furloughs or raising property taxes.

Manny Valbuena, acting director of the city's department of budget and fiscal services, says they reduced city department and agency budgets another 10% -- saving the city $57 million. He says they are also asking the state to defer the costs of health benefits for retired city employees -- saving another $84 million.

Valbuena says the city is anticipating some relief from the recently passed relief package President Donald Trump signed earlier this week.

"We're projecting that we will be receiving at least $50 million for transportation. And we're going to use that in our bus services," Valbuena said.

"We will be consolidating solid waste, and as such H-Power reserves will be used to offset some of the revenue shortfalls -- so that general funds will not subsidize those funds. And lastly, there were about $73 million in other provisional debt service transfers that we plan to do the savings."

Caldwell says the plan is a recommendation for Mayor-elect Blangiardi, and it is up to the incoming administration to decide the city's budget for the next fiscal year.

-- HPR's Casey Harlow

Honolulu's City Card deadline extended

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has approved extending the use of the City Card until the end of January 2021. The original deadline to use the card was Tuesday, December 29.

The city began the City Card program last month to assist 3,700 families and individuals impacted by the pandemic. It allowed cardholders to spend up to $500 on groceries and basic household necessities.

But delays in families receiving the cards, as well as card activation issues, have hindered the program's initial timeline. 

Office of Economic Revitalization Director Amy Asselbaye says 2,484 cards have been activated, and $1.5 million has been spent.