Stop the Spending: Hawaii’s Finances Need to Be Controlled

Sen. Sam Slom - Photo courtesy of Mel Ah Ching Productions
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Sen. Sam Slom - Photo courtesy of Mel Ah Ching Productions

BY SEN. SAM SLOM – The 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) showing the financial condition of the state government was just published, and it showed a substantial cost increase for medical services for state employees.

As Hawaii Reporter recently reported, “the 2009 CAFR shows an unfunded liability for the Employees Union Trust Fund of $7.2 billion and for the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) of $1.6 billion for a total of $8.8 billion (for July 1, 2007, even though the CAFR is for June 30, 2009). Whereas the 2010 CAFR details unfunded liability for the EUTF of $11.5 billion and for the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s VEBA of $2.5 billion for a total of $14.0 billion. (These numbers are for July 1, 2009.).”


This is an increase of 60 percent or $5.2 billion in just two years, largely because Hawaii has among the most generous health benefits in the nation, but we have to do what we can to get these growing costs under control.

Every year at the Hawaii State Legislature, I sponsored senate legislation to establish fiscal notes, alternative budgeting, reform for health care and changes for the public Employee Retirement System.

The Administration is content with lame efforts to ‘slow the growth of the deficit,’ and the lop-sided Democrat Legislature has thus far been unwilling to seriously confront this problem.

We are running out of time and we must act aggressively and decisively to change direction to save what is left of economic security for the taxpaying families we represent.

If you are diagnosed with terminal cancer, you can’t settle for slowing the growth; you must get rid of the cancer.

We have had several options to deal with this problem  but have not had the political back bone to do it. It is clear that the trend is devastating.

The 2011 CAFR will be worse than 2010 and so on until we are unable to act.

Taxpayers must hold the 2012 legislature’s feet to the fire and be directly involved in next November’s election to remove those elected officials unwilling or unable to stop this fiscal cancer.