Newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) wasted no time rewarding his Union minions by giving away $126 Million of Tax Payer Dollars. Secretly, and with no public notice, Abercrombie increased the State’s contribution to the Public Union’s Health Care Fund. Hawai’i already has a huge budget deficit, and Abercrombie just increased the state’s debt, without any way to fund it.
Abercrombie last month agreed to increase the state’s contribution for health benefits to a 60-40 employer-to-employee ratio for unionized employees in the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers, Hawaii State Teachers Association and University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. This agreement will cost the state an extra $18 million this fiscal year, and $54 million in each of the next two fiscal years.
The Union’s were paying a 50-50 employer to employee ratio for health care insurance. Last year, then Gov. Linda Lingle (R-HI) refused to raise the state’s contribution to the Unions Medical benefits. Hawai’i already had a $1.2 Billion shortfall when the FY2010 and FY2011 state budget was passed, and that included $1.1 Billion dollars in budget cuts by then Gov. Lingle. Hawai’i faces a $71.6 budget deficit for FY2011 and a $771.9 million shortfall over the next two-year budget cycle.
So by increasing the State’s contribution to the Public Union’s Health Care benefits, it will increase the State’s financial deficit. Where’s the money going to come from Neil?
You would expect the major Hawaiian Newspapers to report this act of irresponsible government, and they did, they just buried it.
Still, Abercrombie will be listening to a constant stream of pleas for more money.
The loudest will come from the public employee unions. The state’s deficit projections are based in part on the end of the state worker furloughs in June. After that, the state employees work five days a week, four weeks a month, unless Abercrombie can figure out a new way to pay state workers less.
After 10 paragraphs about New York and California’s budget problems, you get to Hawai’i. Is this responsible journalism? Hawai’i Free Press provides details on the story with links to other sources.
A detailed analysis on Hawai’i present, past and future budget issues can be found at Sunshine Review.
Hawai’i’s Public Union contracts are up for renewal in June 30th, 2011. What do you think Abercrombie will do? If you look at Abercrombie’s record, you’ll see that he relies heavily on the Public Unions for support. It is his largest voter base. Why else would he take the irresponsible step of increasing the state’s contribution to the Unions Health Care costs? The tax payer has to make up that shortfall.
The cost to cover pension and health benefits for Hawaii’s public employees is contributing to the state’s nearly $800 million budget shortfall over the next two years. And these costs could go up as union contracts covering most of the state’s 35,000 public workers expire June 30.
These added expenses, as well as costs tied to increasing the state’s portion of health benefits starting in March, are among six the administration pointed to as responsible for raising the state’s budget by 6 percent and 8 percent the next two years, respectively.
The Private sector in Hawai’i sees its Health Care cost rising, but Abercrombie offers no relief for the private employers and employees. Instead, the interim Director of the State’s Department of Budget and Finance told Hawai’i Lawmakers that a comprehensive budget won’t be ready till mid-March.
When further pressed by other Hawai’i lawmakers about any “Revenue Enhancements“, the Director replied that the Budget and Finance Departments, and the Tax Departments are looking at not only New Taxes and Fees, but Tax Credits and Exemptions. However, the Director could not offer any specifics.
Which led one Hawai’i lawmaker to say, “You’re saying you want us to wait until mid March to get the governor’s plan?“, “That Scares Me“.
Indeed, that should scare every taxpayer in the State of Hawai’i. If responsible government, by Abercrombie standards, means rewarding his Union buddies by reducing their Health Care obligation, then we should all be fearful of impending higher State taxes.
I got a email-letter from my Congressman, Daniel Inouye(D-HI), in which he opines about Congresses failure to pass the $1.1 Trillion Omnibus Bill. In this bill, Inouye explains, there were 141 Earmarks totaling $321 Million for Hawai’i and these monies “Would” have funded:
- Road construction and public transit buses for all the counties;
- Renewable energy initiatives in wind, solar, biomass and bioalgae, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and electric vehicles;
- Support for farmers and ranchers in the diversification of our agricultural base, and our need for food security;
- Greater access to quality health care, educational and job training opportunities for those most in need;
- Cutting-edge innovation in science and technology, supporting many of Hawaii’s most promising high tech small businesses.
Congressman Inouye goes on to say that other states also lost out on Congressional Initiatives, like these:
$277,000 for potato pest management in Wisconsin
$246,000 for bovine tuberculosis in Michigan and Minnesota
$522,000 for cranberry and blueberry disease and breeding in New Jersey
$500,000 for oyster safety in Florida
$349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina
$413,000 for peanut research in Alabama
$247,000 for virus free wine grapes in Washington
$208,000 beaver management in North Carolina
$94,000 for blackbird management in Louisiana
$165,000 for maple syrup research in Vermont
$235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada
$100,000 for the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage Visitor’s Center in New York
$300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii
$400,000 for solar parking canopies and plug-in electric stations in Kansas
This is just a small portion of the number of Earmarks that was in the Omnibus spending bill. However, I am concerned about Inouye’s wording of “Would Have“. It implies that maybe it would, and maybe it wouldn’t. The Omnibus Appropriations bill was over 1,924 pages of the most irresponsible spending the Congress could have come up with. I don’t know if Inouye has been keeping up with current events over the last two years, but this country is broke. We’re printing money that we don’t have and calling it cutesy names as Quantitative Easing (QE). This is the second time we’re trying this, because the first try didn’t work. It means the same thing, printing money you don’t have. This is completely risky.
The answer is making the Federal and State Governments spend wisely on programs that make the government operational, and not on programs that benefit a select few. Too many Earmark programs are just wasteful unnecessary programs. Like rewarding Public Unions with extra benefits at the expense of the taxpayer, it’s neither fair, nor justified during a time of budget crisis.
We Want Fiscally Responsible Government
What’s For Dinner?
Winter Storms have dropped the temperatures and dropped Snow on Mauna Kea