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Hawaii 'Furloughed' Its Schoolchildren: NYT

Aug 6, 2010

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Reported by

Frank James

The New York Times has a perfect lead or first paragraph on a story about how declining or decelerating tax revenues in states and localities have forced cuts to services that have gone so deep they now approach the absurd.

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

At least the kids haven't been laid off — yet.

Hawaii officially said it was the teachers, not the students, who were furloughed. But the idea of kids being furloughed is pretty potent, no?

Seriously, the story captures just how difficult it has become for local and state officials to manage their budgets, so hard in fact that they are doing away with services citizens have long taken for granted.

It also helps explain why numerous Washington policymakers felt under so much pressure to send federal stimulus money to hard hit states.

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