Hawaii’s Rainy Day Fund Almost Dry
Hawaii’s so called “Rainy Day Fund” dropped from $60 million to $6 million in 2011 after the majority of lawmakers and Gov. Neil Abercrombie raided the fund to cover a shortfall and balance the state budget.
Kalbert Young, director of the Department of Budget and Finance, announced plans to replenish the fund back to 2011 levels over the next two years to help the state maintain its credit ratings and keep Hawaii state government financially sound.
But yesterday, several government dependent social welfare groups, led by Senate Human Services Chair Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Nuuanu, demanded the state give the money to them instead as an emergency appropriation and raid what is left in the fund.
Alex Santiago, a former legislator who now heads up a coalition of social welfare organizations, said “it is really difficult out there” and “it is raining.”
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, told the audience he agreed with Santiago that these are difficult times, but he maintained it is extremely difficult for the taxpayers and small businesses who are called upon to subsidize other groups and fill the state coffers only to see the funds diverted for other purposes.
Slom said many of his legislative colleagues and members of the public are still in denial about the lack of income and thus tax revenues available in Hawaii.
Social service advocates aren’t the only ones trying to get their hands on the Rainy Day funds. Lawyers also want their cut. The Department of Human Services has been unable to fund legal settlements they already agreed to, and the department has included those settlements in their emergency request for this year.
Battle for GOP Committeeman Continues After Protest Filed
Hawaii Republican Party members continue to fight over who will be its next national committeeman.
On January 21, party members voted in former Gov. Linda Lingle administrator Ted Liu as committee member over former GOP chair Willes Lee. But after a contentious election, the final outcome was decided by one vote, 30 to 31.
Adrienne King, a member of the Republican state committee, filed a challenge with the state Republican Party on January 29 over the results of the election for national committeeman.
In a letter to party leaders, King claimed “an invalid vote submitted by a person not present in person, or by phone, whose alleged proxy was deemed invalid by the Party attorney, and whose “vote” was e-mailed several days before the election was held, in violation of the rules set forth by you, as Party Chair and the Executive Committee, was nonetheless allowed to be counted, without any authority to do so, was used to break the 30-30 tie.”
“Because the election was decided by one vote, the allowance of this invalid vote cast doubt on the election and rendered the result void,” King said.
King, who also chairs the Oahu League of Republican Voters and was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, said she does not make this challenge lightly.
“I believe the integrity of our Hawaii Republican Party is as stake. We are either a Party that believes in the rule of law or not. There is no middle ground. We are either a Party of principle or not. There is no middle ground. We are either a Party of honor and fairness or not. There is no middle ground.”
“If the intent of the rules is to ensure open, honest, transparent and fair elections, where even the appearance of impropriety is to be avoided at all cost, your decision will be viewed in the same light.”
Anti-Rail Opponents Oppose Intervenors in Federal Lawsuit Challenge
HonoluluTraffic.com founder Cliff Slater, who organized a federal challenge to the city’s planned $5.3 billion steel on steel rail project, said their attorneys are protesting the entry of FACE – the Faith Action For Community Equity, PRP – the Pacific Resource Partnership, and Melvin Uesato, as intervenors into the lawsuit against the City and FTA.
“Their interests are well taken care of by the existing horde of lawyers for the city and FTA. Essentially all it would do is create even more paperwork, which will drag out resolution of the case even longer than what the city and FTA are doing right now,” Slater said.
Seven plaintiffs are challenging the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the city and approved by the federal government which promotes the $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project as the best alternative for Oahu.
In addition to retired businessman Cliff Slater, other well-known plaintiffs include former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, Retired Judge Walter Heen, Sen. Sam Slom’s Small Business Hawaii Foundation, University of Hawaii law professor Randall Roth, Dr. Michael Uechi, and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends have raised more than $200,000 to initiate the lawsuit.
More on the web: Opposition to the intervenors are below. Earlier documents in the case are here.
Opposition of Plaintiffs to intervenors. 1/26/2012
Declaration of Yost opposing intervenors. 1/26/2012.