Monday, July 28, 2014         

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Pending cuts to social services draw rally participants to Capitol

By Chris Mikesell


Dennis Oda / doda@staradvertiser.com@Caption1:Protecting Hawaii's Ohana, Children, Under Served, Elderly and Disabled, or PHOCUSED, held a rally against budget cuts to social services at the state Capitol Rotunda yesterday. Mark Ames embraced Kay Harada while talking to Cher Labu­guen yesterday as they waited to enter the Senate chamber.

Representatives of more than 50 social service agencies rallied at the state Capitol yesterday to urge lawmakers to restore proposed cuts to human services programs.

"Our funding from DHS (the Department of Human Services) used to be $1.4 million, but I think we could scrape by with $1 million," said William Richards, communications director for the Partners in Development Foundation.

Partners in Development is one of the more than 58 social services providers statewide that make up PHO­CUSED — Protecting Hawaii's Ohana, Children, Under Served, Elderly and Disabled — a coalition that converged on the Capitol yesterday to defend their programs from the budget ax.

Members also walked the halls of the Capitol, visiting lawmakers who are trying to balance the state's budget in the face of a $1.3 billion shortfall.

Among cuts proposed by legislators are $30 million in state funding to Medicaid, $3.2 million from the Preschool Open Door Program, $1 million from the Ka Pa‘a­lana Traveling Preschool and Homeless Family Education Program in Wai­anae and $425,000 from the Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool on Maui.

"Everybody is hurting right now," Richards said. "We asked (House Finance Chairman Marcus) Oshiro, but he's said there just aren't any funds left."

"The proposals on the table aren't enough," said Alex San­ti­ago, executive director of PHOCUSED and a former state legislator. "During this time of great need, they have to find the revenues."

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