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State lawmakers mull over unfunded liabilities

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:11 a.m. HST, Feb 05, 2013

Hawaii lawmakers are investigating the problem of the growing cost of state retiree health care.

More than a dozen bills addressing the issue have been introduced in the House.

A special House committee charged with addressing unfunded liabilities learned about the future cost of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Trust Fund and ways to finance it during an informational briefing Monday.

Rep. Cindy Evans (D, North Kona-South Kohala) says the state needs to consider setting tighter parameters for the program given an aging population and costs rising in the future.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in his State of the State address last month that he wants to prioritize financing rising state employee pension and health care deficits this session.

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Ronin006 wrote:
A few short days ago, a story in SA said Abercrombie, during his first two years as Governor, managed to turn the state’s budget from a deficit to a surplus. How can that be when the state has unfunded liabilities about which it is doing nothing?
on February 5,2013 | 07:21AM
DiverDave wrote:
Correct Ron, Every man, woman, and child in the islands now owes about $8,000 a piece if we were to pay up what should be in the kitty already towards these unfunded liabilities. Wow! But our State Government continues with their misinformation campaign, and wild spending. Don't anyone forget that our State also spent 550 million dollars more last year than we took in from taxes. But we are in a surplus? Can you say fuzzy math tricks?
on February 5,2013 | 10:01AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Our politi-weasels need to get one basic concept straight....unless they plan on default, these "unfunded liabilities" are real obligations that will have to be paid. They can only kick the can down the road for a limited time. Talk all you want about short term recovery and economic bounce but there are roughly $22 billions in bills that will need to get paid.
on February 5,2013 | 07:23AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Here's the number I'd like to see: The percentage tax increase required to meet these obligations. If I understand correctly, that the $22 billion health/pension number is a present value calculation representing the amount needed in the "bank", now, our actual future obligation is much higher. So, Governor, how high will taxes have to be raised to meet this cost? Right now, we have no idea or, at least, our politicized number crunchers are not being allowed to tell us.
on February 5,2013 | 07:42AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
A few years ago, the Government Accounting Standards Board set forth accounting standards by which the unfunded liabilities were to be paid through a thirty year amortization process. Since then, Hawaii has failed to meet those amortized obligations and has continued to grow rather than shrink the unfunded obligations. At this point in time it is doubtful that Hawaii will ever be able to pay down those obligations without major structural changes to the retirement plans and benefits currently obligated.
on February 5,2013 | 08:17AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Seems like the only thing that might wake up the public would be a tax increase number. Well, maybe nothing would do that, but, if for no other reason than making His Smugness, the Governor, uncomfortable, it would be worth the effort of making the calculations and publishing future costs in terms the public can personalize.
on February 5,2013 | 08:50AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
"...A special House committee charged with addressing unfunded liabilities learned about the future cost of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Trust Fund and ways to finance it during an informational briefing Monday..." --> This is pure fiction. for years those numbers have been reported in Hawaii's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The Legislature has been briefed each and every year on this matter and the legislature has knowingly failed to funded the unfunded liabilities. For Honolulu's great metropolitan newspaper to buy into this dribble is pitiful, to say the least.
on February 5,2013 | 07:58AM
HD36 wrote:
Big government not cheap eh? Nice to promise the world and get the votes but when comes time to pay up, you gotta start dancing.
on February 5,2013 | 08:39AM
tiki886 wrote:
On June 23, 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Hawaii's $21.9 billion biennial state budget passed by the state legislature. In April 2012, the legislature passed a supplemental budget for FY2013.

Hawaii has a total state debt of approximately $39,954,412, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and the FY2013 budget gap. The state debt increased over the prior year's total of $36,310,406,000.

Hawaii's total state debt per capita is $29,061.77, the highest per capita state debt of all 50 states.

Technically, the number tells me that Hawaii is bankrupt but the Governor and the State Legislators still want to create NEW spending and NEW liabilities.

We have a gross imbalance of Democrats in power. They have this power because the Democrats have used our own money to buy votes from unions.

on February 5,2013 | 10:01AM
South76 wrote:
Per capita, the state of Hawaii has the highest number of people working for the govt whether be state or county. We have a bunch of clowns at the square building on Beretania that are anointed by these govt unions not elected by the people. Until the rest of the electorate wake up from denial, we are either going to raise taxes on everyone else to get this unfunded liability paid off or have the public directly negotiate with these govt unions on pay raises and benefit through referendum.....It would be nice if we have referendum here in Hawaii like in California where any major issues that affect everyone gets to participate and vote on it. The chances of having referendum law passed by the clowns are slim to none.
on February 5,2013 | 10:25AM
tiki886 wrote:
The Democrats banned intiatives and referendums in the 1978 Constitution Convention thus, locking in government union benefits forever or until Hawaii goes bankrupt. This is another reason why Democrats and government unions will fight tooth and nail to prevent another ConCon for fear they will lose their entrenched power and benefits.
on February 5,2013 | 11:24AM
HD36 wrote:
Many will be voting with their feet and moving out soon.
on February 5,2013 | 10:25AM
tiki886 wrote:
The Congressional Budget Office, a non partisan government bureaucracy says that the cheapest ObamaCare plan for a family of 4 will be $20,000 per year! You can run but you can't hide!
on February 5,2013 | 11:31AM
eastside808 wrote:
What about unfunded Federal mandates that are sucking the States dry? I believe some of these Federal mandates may have to be excused and say that enough is enough. Show Hawaii the money or these Federal programs will shrink to whatever the current funding covers. Legislator's retirement and medical benefits should be tied to what current civil servants are receiving in retirement benefits..
on February 5,2013 | 08:44AM
Steve96785 wrote:
Step 1: stop raiding the fund Step 2: allow it to earn at the maximum rate. Current law allows the state to take any profit above a certain percentage (8%?) of investments. Not a problem now in a weak economy, but we would have been much better off now if the fun had retained its full profits in good years. Step 3: report the total cost of government and all of the costs added by every bill under consideration, easy to get people to vote themselves a fortune in benefits but sooner or later those bills will come due. Step 4: charge every citizen and business about $1000/year extra taxes for the next 10 years, and cut all public support payments by the same amount. Charge every visitor, civilian and military worker a $10/day head tax for the next ten years. This will accomplish one of two things. Either everyone will agree and we will pay off this debt, or people will realize just how frivolous our politicians have been with the public's money, revolt and throw out the dems who have created this mess of a welfare state based on hot-air promises.
on February 5,2013 | 08:54AM
typroctor wrote:
I believe they will move those liabilities to Obama Care.
on February 5,2013 | 11:24AM
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