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HGEA Statement on the Legislature’s $29M Bonus for Teachers

May 06, 2021

HGEA recognizes that our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on all of us collectively pulling together. Rewarding one occupation in the public sector over all others creates divisiveness and gives employees who work side-by-side the impression that the Legislature favors teachers over all other workers.

On the last day of the 2021 Legislative Session, the State Legislature passed a bill that would give every full-time and part-time public-school teacher a one-time $2,200 “bonus” payment at a total cost of $29.7 million. H.B. 613, C.D. 2 directs the Hawaii State Department of Education to expend federal pandemic relief funds on a variety of programs and projects, including the bonus for “educator workforce stabilization.”

“With distance learning, it is now more apparent than ever that success hinges on a community,” said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira. “Educators – including special education and classroom assistants, principals, counselors, librarians, specialists, support staff, custodians, food service employees, parents, and more, working together. It is unconscionable that the Legislature disregarded collective bargaining and granted this generous cash bonus to one group of employees while making significant departmental cuts elsewhere, like in higher education, which will likely lead to layoffs for others.”

HGEA, which represents over 7,350 employees in the Department of Education, cannot support singling out and rewarding one profession over all others. The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) monies were intended to provide schools with the necessary resources to maintain the operation and continuity of all school services and not just the services provided by one profession.

The $2,200 bonus for teachers disregards the hard work and sacrifices of all other public employees who continue to provide educational and other public services and who were/are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while working on the frontlines.

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