State Budget Director Kalbert Young - Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions
State Budget Director Kalbert Young - Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions

Stage for Hawaii’s Grim Financial State Set Decades Ago

Most of us weren’t born when decades ago, Hawaii’s politicians made deals with the local unions to provide generous health and pension benefits to government employees.

As Kalbert Young, director of the Department of Budget and Finance said yesterday, no one involved in those deals had to be accountable for what the deal is worth at the end.

Today the state taxpayers owe state employees at least $8 billion in pension benefits – and that is the sunny side of the equation, Young said.

Other Post Employment Benefits total as much as $15 billion. That includes healthcare insurance for government retirees, which the state pays as the bills come due rather than having a fund to guarantee the state can continue to cover these promised benefits.

Young made his presentation to Smart Business Hawaii members on Thursday morning at the Alan Wong Pineapple Room in Ala Moana Center.

Reapportionment Debacle May Become Less So Under Proposed Legislation

What is a “permanent resident?” Forty nine other states define the term under the federal definition but Hawaii has no legal definition.

The seemingly unimportant term actually is quite essential. It is the center of a Hawaii Supreme Court battle over redistricting – mainly how Hawaii’s congressional district lines for the upcoming election will be reconfigured based on the new population count reported in 2010 by U.S. Census.

In 1992, Hawaii residents voted to keep only those claiming Hawaii as their “permanent residence” in the population count for the purpose of redistricting, but the amendment did not define the term.

So when the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission released its proposed maps for the 2012 election and beyond earlier this year, but included some non resident military, their dependents and non resident students, they were challenged by Big Island Democrats in the Hawaii Supreme Court.

At issue was whether the Big Island county would be allocated a new Senate seat to total four, and in the process, one would be taken from Oahu.

The Big Island plaintiffs won the case, but the Supreme Court did not define the term either. Now the reapportionment commissioners are scrambling to finalize the plan removing all non permanent residents, but are still trying to decide who exactly should be removed.

A Senate bill introduced by Sen. Sam Slom, (R-Hawaii Kai-Diamnond Head), will be heard Monday at 9:35 a.m. by the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee to determine that very thing.

The bill, SB 212 RELATING TO LEGISLATIVE REAPPORTIONMENT, defines “permanent resident” for legislative reapportionment as “any individual counted as a usual resident of the State in the last preceding U.S. census and requires reapportionment to be done using data on the total number of permanent residents in the State.”

Meanwhile Hawaii’s political candidates cannot pull or file papers for re-election since the district boundaries are not set.

The public may submit testimony on the matter and attend the hearing in room 016.

Maryknoll School Students Shine

Students in Maryknoll School’s kindergarten through second grade recently learned how to properly fit and check their helmets and bikes before going on bike rides.

This opportunity was the result of  the work of two seniors, Spencer Young and Ryan Hiranoka, who decided the theme for their senior project would be helmet safety.

The program also included information from the Kapiolani Medical Center and Hawaii Bicycling League’s BikeEd instructors.  Through a grant provided by HMSA, the students also received helmets.

As a result of this presentation, Maryknoll is considering participating in the Hawaii Safe Routes to School Day Challenge.

The challenge is as easy as 1, 2, 3:  1)  Pick a school;  2)  pick a bikeable or walkable route; 2)  pick up kids along that route the fourth Wednesday of each month.

For more information, visit www.PathHawaii.org/hui.

Submitted by Natalie Iwasa

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