While numerous voices in and out of the local political establishment are calling for an increase in the General Excise Tax to cover any future budget shortfalls, a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii study has identified $1.4 billion in unspent excess balances sitting in special funds.
According to the study, 186 special funds spread across twenty different departments hold an estimated $1,412,357,203 in unspent revenues over and above their operational requirements. Some of the special funds were tagged by the auditor almost a decade ago for repeal.
Citing a lack of transparency on the part of state government regarding the special funds, the study’s authors, Danny de Gracia, II and Kyle Shiroma, took it upon themselves to review worksheets from the Department of Budget and Finance and to itemize all the special funds to see just what they contained.
“With the State’s information presented so cryptically it would intimidate anyone short of an accountant, few members of the public know just how many special funds exist, what their purpose is and how much money the State of Hawaii has in these funds,” said de Gracia. “If the estimates provided by the Department are correct, the state has more than just pocket change stuck in its seats.”
The Department of Transportation is reported as having $582,449,161 in unspent special funds (41% of the state’s excess balances), Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has some $327,412,159 unspent (23%) and the University of Hawaii holds another $119,225,732 (8%) making them the top holders of excess revenues.
The worksheets show figures such as $6,968,895 unspent in the Works of Art Special Fund (AGS 881) for public aesthetics and art education – a fund which was advised by the Auditor to be repealed in 2001 and its balances lapsed into the General Fund.
“If these excess balances were divided equally among the population, there would be checks of close to $1,100 going to every man, woman and child in Hawaii,” said Jamie Story, the Institute’s President. “Before the State looks for more money, it needs to make effective use of its existing funds and show more transparency in its records.”
The study, Exposing Hawaii’s Special Funds, can be found at the GRIH website: www.grassrootinstitute.org. The mission of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is to promote individual liberty, free market economic principles and limited, more accountable government.
Submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii